LONDON MILLS, Ill. (AP) - A flood-swollen river in central Illinois has topped a levee and inundated parts of London Mills, prompting authorities to evacuate about half of the small town of about 500 people.
Police chief Scott Keithley says the waters overwhelmed the levee on the Spoon River overnight sending torrents of water into yards and sewers already running out of control because of the heavy rains. He says some homes are half under water.
Keithley says authorities and volunteers have given up filling sandbags in the town, a small community of farm workers.
The water has pushed debris into the town and sent abandoned cars floating.
Flash floods and rivers that have quickly risen to record or near-record levels have inundated communities around the state.
Gov. Pat Quinn has issued a disaster declaration.
The city of St. Louis is closing several flood gates to keep the Mississippi River out of the city after heavy rain swept through the region on Thursday.
The St. Louis City Streets Department began closing and raising the gates Friday morning as the river is expected to crest on Wednesday at 39.5 feet.
Officials closed four gates Friday and erected the gates at Poplar Street and Carr Street along Lenore K. Sullivan Boulevard.
City officials said crews would continue to shut gates throughout the weekend. They said the schedule could change depending on the latest forecasts and needs of businesses impacted by the rising river.
The City of St. Peters is making preparations at a number of facilities in the interest of public safety and threat of flooding.
Currently, five St. Peters City Parks’ facilities are closed including:
• Woodlands Park
• Rabbit Run Park
* Lone Wolf Park
• Brown Road Park
• Sports Center Park
• St. Peters Municipal Golf Course
As of dusk Friday (7 p.m.), 370 Lakeside Park will also be closed to the general public.
These St. Peters City Parks will be closed until the threat of flooding has ended.
The city says it will provide updated information via a special FLOODWATCH section on the home page of their website, www.stpetersmo.net
St. Louis firefighters were forced to evacuate a burning home on Theodosia in north St. Louis this morning. One person inside the home has died. Details to follow.
MARSEILLES, Ill. (AP) - Officials say they've evacuated as many as 1,500 residents of the northern Illinois community of Marseilles after a possible levee break on the nearby Illinois River.
Connie Brooks of the Lasalle County Emergency Management Agency says the residents, including those in a nursing home, were evacuated late Thursday night after nine barges broke free of a tugboat and struck the levee. She says there is expected to be more flooding in the community of 5,100 residents southwest of Joliet when the river was expected to sometime Friday afternoon but that she did not expect that to prompt any more evacuations.
She says there were no reports of any injuries.
The Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island says that efforts will be made Friday to remove the barges.
Two St. Charles County schools are closed today after a threat on a social media site.
Investigators say the schools at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon and at Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie are both closed. Dardenne Prairie police say someone posted a bomb threat on Instagram.
A third school also involved is remaining open. That school is Fort Zumwalt West Middle School. O'Fallon, MO police are patrolling around the school.
Police say at this point no one is in custody.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has issued an emergency declaration following the flooding and severe weather affecting areas across Illinois.
Quinn issued the declaration yesterday. The action will allow the state to access federal resources including generators, pump systems sandbags and additional funds. The declaration is a step below a disaster emergency declaration.
Quinn says the American Red Cross has opened two shelters in north central Illinois. One is in Oglesby and another in Roanoke.
Earlier yesterday, Quinn initiated the State Incident Response Center to monitor flooding and severe weather in portions of Illinois and help coordinate assistance local authorities may need.
The governor is encouraging people affected by the weather to go online for real time updates on the storms.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has defeated a proposal allowing the carrying of concealed guns in public.
The vote of 64-45 in favor of the bill failed because it needed 71 votes. A super-majority was necessary because the law would preempt the home-rule powers of several cities.
The legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg would have required authorities to issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who passed background checks.
Phelps used a legislative procedure that will allow him to recall the bill later for another vote.
Illinois is the only state in the nation that prohibits possessing guns in public. A federal appeals court in December ruled the law unconstitutional and gave Illinois until June to adopt a new law.
A prominent, long-time St. Louis area gun rights advocate is giving up his lifetime membership in the NRA.
Adolphus Busch IV sent a letter to the National Rifle Association Thursday, asking them to immediately take his name off their roles.
In the letter, Busch wrote that he was resigning his membership because of the NRA’s stand on background checks, which he says is supported by a majority of NRA members. Busch cites NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre's support of background checks as "reasonable" in 1999 and questions the shift in position.
Busch also questions the organization's position on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Busch charges that the NRA has become a lobby organization for gun and ammo manufactures instead of gun owners.
Here is the content of Busch's letter to the NRA:
Adolphus A. Busch, IV
1600 Highway 79
O’Fallon, MO 63366
Delivered by UPS
April 18, 2013
Mr. David A. Keene
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
This letter shall serve as formal resignation of my life membership in the NRA. I ask that you immediately remove my name from your membership roles and provide me an acknowledgement of this action.
As most in your organization would admit, I have historically been a staunch defender of the NRA purpose and tradition in representing the interests of gun owners. I have personally devoted countless financial resources and time to nurture an intelligent environmental policy that provided for the proud tradition of personal hunting for generations to come.
It disturbs me greatly to see this rigid new direction of the NRA. As a starting point, one only has to ask why the NRA reversed its original position on background checks. Was it not the NRA position to support background checks when Mr. LaPierre himself stated in 1999 that NRA saw checks as “reasonable”? Furthermore, I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable. In fact, according to a Johns Hopkins University study, 74% say they support background checks.
I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision. The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established. Your current strategic focus places a priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.
One only has to look at the makeup of the 75-member board of directors, dominated by manufacturing interests, to confirm my point. The NRA appears to have evolved into the lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers rather than gun owners.
In closing I find it important to extend my personal thanks to Chris Cox and David Lehman for their support of so many important environmental issues. I will miss that level of friendship and support, but must take this action based upon my personal feelings toward the distorted values I see emerging within the NRA.
Adolphus A. Busch, IV
Flooding continues to be a problem in the St. Louis metro area as rain-swollen creeks remain out of their banks.
Now the National Weather Service is warning that the Mighty Mississippi will likely over-spill it's banks in the next few days. A flood warning has been issued for communities along the river from Canton, Missouri -- north of Hannibal, to Chester, Illinois. That warning includes the riverfront in St. Louis.
Officials say the Mississippi will rise above flood stage by Friday evening. It's expected to crest at around 39.4 feet by Tuesday morning.