Cautious relief in Midwest as river levels fall

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm •  Published: April 24, 2013
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—Hundreds of evacuated residents began returning to their homes in western Michigan as the rain-swollen Grand River began receding.

—Officials in Fargo, N.D., are considering scaling back flood protection efforts after the National Weather Service on Wednesday lowered the crest prediction on the Red River by a couple of feet. The crest late next week in Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., will likely range between 38 and 40 feet. The river overflows its banks at 18 feet, but most structures are protected to about 38 feet.

In Peoria, citywide damage estimates are murky and could be sorted out in about a week once flood-affected businesses weigh in on their losses, Urich said.

Up to 20 homes sustained damage, though much of downtown was spared by what he called lessons from floods past: Water Street, which runs along the riverfront, was raised years ago to form more of a barrier between the river and the central business district.

The city's museum and a Caterpillar visitors' center opened last October and together cost $150 million. Both tourism attractions were built on intentionally elevated ground — again out of flood concerns — and weren't harmed by the latest inundation.

"Being as proactive as we were, we mitigated what could have been severe damage to some of those properties," Urich said. "That would be an awful lot of water to be sitting inside someone's business."

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Salter reported from St. Louis.

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Watch The Associated Press' video here: http://bit.ly/ZlESoK