Shutdown Mississippi hurts Midwest

Canoers paddle through the Mississippi River-flooded town of Keithsburg, Ill.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: With food prices where they are, what we did not need was a summer of flooding in the Midwest. But it looks like that's what we're gonna get.
Early this morning, a lock and dam on the Mississippi River was closed to barge traffic. There are nine of these locks, and they'll all be closed eventually if water levels keep rising.

The economic toll of shutting down the Mississippi cannot be underestimated. Small towns all over the Midwest are already feeling squeezed by the flooding. Maureen McCollum reports from Wisconsin Public Radio.


Maureen McCollum: The southwestern Wisconsin town of Ontario is usually lush and green this time of year, its Kickapoo river a big tourist draw for canoers and kayakers. Now, everything appears mucky and brown.

Colin Winchell works at Drifty's Canoe Rentals:

Colin Winchell: You stand on this bridge and look down the water, you'll see canoes in the trees and canoes stuck in fences.

The Kickapoo's water is still so high and so dangerous that no one knows when the tourists will return. Ontario's village president puts preliminary damage at $2 million -- a lot for a town of 500. the damage to the county's agriculture -- hay, corn and soybeans -- is estimated at $5.5 million.

But it could be worse. About 60 miles to the east, the man-made Lake Delton was completely drained when flood waters breached its dam.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle:

Jim Doyle: There are 22 lodges that are on that lake that had people booked all summer long to go there.

The flood's full economic impact throughout the midwest isn't clear, but FEMA will continue to assess the value of the damage over the next few days.

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, this is Maureen McCollum for Marketplace.

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