TIM TALLEY/Associated Press Writer MIAMI, Okla.
(AP) - A stagnant storm system that caused widespread flooding in this northeast Oklahoma community has moved out of the state but rivers continued to rise and conditions may get worse before they get better.
Flood warnings continued Wednesday for the rain-swollen Neosho River, which forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, blocked access to key roads and sent water into classroom buildings and apartments at a state college when it spilled over its banks.
The river, which flows out of southeast Kansas, crested at 29.2 feet about 1 a.m. Wednesday and wasn't expected to fall below its flood stage of 15 feet until Sunday morning, said Chuck Hodges, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa.
The river crested at 30.6 feet - nearly 10 feet above its flood stage of 21 feet - Tuesday night in Kansas, according to the weather service.
"The upper system that has been almost stationary over Oklahoma and given us all the rain has drifted well south into Texas now," Hodges said. "So for the next several days, there will only be a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain just about every day."
The change couldn't come soon enough for the water-logged region.
Besides the floodwaters, one river carried an oil slick toward a reservoir that supplies water to several cities.
An estimated 42,000 gallons of thick crude oil that spilled from a Kansas refinery on Sunday floated with mud and debris down the Verdigris River, coating everything it touched with a slimy, smelly layer of goo.
Coffeyville Resources, the refinery's operator, said Tuesday the tank that overflowed and spilled the oil down the Verdigris had been secured.
Environmental officials were planning to conduct water sampling where the oil slick made its way.
The oil slick had been making its way toward Lake Oologah, a source of drinking water for the city of Tulsa, and came within 5 or 6 miles of the lake entrance.
The spill wasn't expected to have an impact on the water-supply intakes located well below the surface at the south end of the lake, said Skylar McElhaney, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
She said oil tends to float on the surface of the water, so the quality of water taken from below the surface of the lake should not be affected.
Evacuated residents were advised to wear protective coverings when they return home to avoid touching the oil.
In Texas, torrential downpours led to fast-rising water early Tuesday in northern and eastern sections of the state, prompting a couple of people to be rescued from vehicles.
A 70-year-old man was swept off the top of a car and held onto a tree for about four hours before being rescued by game wardens, said Richard Hill, Hunt County's emergency management coordinator.
No homes were flooded, Hill said Tuesday afternoon.
"We have had probably a good four hours of no rain, and the water is receding," he said. "Right now it's OK, but of course the forecast is for more torrential downpours tonight."
Portions of the bank along Fossil Creek in Haltom City continued to crumble into the water, bringing more worries for homeowners who saw their backyards disappearing.
Haltom City Mayor Bill Lanford said city staff is looking at the possibility of demolishing some of the homes where the backyards are collapsing, but details still must be worked out.
Miami City Manager Mike Spurgeon said no injuries were reported, but another 200 to 300 homes may have to be evacuated before the water recedes.
Utility crews disconnected electricity on entire blocks to prevent the possibility of fire, and additional chlorine was added to the city's water supply to prevent contamination.
"We've sent our fire department out to the areas where we anticipate the worst flooding to be," Spurgeon said. "There's those that just have a difficult time leaving. It's a very personal deal with a lot of emotion involved."
At least 50 people were evacuated by boat Tuesday from a rural community in western Missouri as floodwaters streaming in from neighboring Kansas submerged roads leading to the town.
Bates County Emergency Management Director Tim Young said most residents in and around Papinville were leaving after the Osage and Marais des Cygnes rivers flooded.
"About half a mile outside town is where the water starts. Most of the roads in town are covered in water, so we've got houses as islands and we've got boats kind of wandering through to pick people up and provide assistance,"
In Kansas, the Verdigris River was beginning to recede at Coffeyville, but it was kept high by water being released from the Elk City and Fall River Toronto Lake reservoirs upstream, said Jim Miller, Montgomery County emergency manager.
"It's going to come down the Verdigris until they shut that water supply off," he said. "So it's just a matter of time."