Poplar Bluff, Mo. residents return home after levee breach

KANSAS CITY, Mo Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:39pm EDT

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KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - People began returning to their homes in flood-ravaged Poplar Bluff, Missouri on Thursday as the Black River finally began receding in the region.

Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted, said Police Captain Mike McClain.

"Most people are relieved, and rightfully so," McClain said. "They are ready to go home."

McClain said about 500 homes and more than 1,000 people were evacuated in the city limits of Poplar Bluff, which has about 17,000 residents.

Many more voluntarily fled their homes in the surrounding area, said Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

The levee south of Poplar Bluff remains breached in numerous places and few people who left their homes in that area are trying to return, Dobbs said.

"The water is slowly receding in some rural areas but not at a very rapid pace," Dobbs said. "There is still a lot of high water."

Many people were rescued from floodwaters but no injuries or deaths were reported in the Poplar Bluff area, said McClain and Dobbs.

Flooding continues in areas along swollen rivers in other states, including Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service. More than 400 people have evacuated from Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

(Reporting and writing by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)

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