A sign reading "Looters will be shot!!" sits in front of a flooded home on Turtle Bay, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Fort Smith, Ark. Forecasters say heavy rainfall is intensifying flooding in already saturated areas along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. (Ben Goff/The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

The Latest: 200 Illinois guardsmen deployed amid flooding

May 30, 2019 - 11:58 am

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on flooding affecting parts of the United States (all times local):

10:45 a.m.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has deployed 200 members of the Illinois National Guard to respond to flooding along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Pritzker on Thursday said another 200 Illinois National Guard members are on standby. He says the flooding is a "grave" and "urgent" situation.

The governor's action comes as National Weather Service forecasts predict record or near-record crests along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers in the coming week.

The weather service says the Illinois River at Valley City is forecast to crest Monday at 27.3 feet (8.32 meters). The record crest in the tiny village north of Interstate 72 is 27 feet (8.23 meters).

State officials say they're using 2 million sandbags to hold water back. They say they want to preserve evacuation routes, so priorities include protecting levees and preventing road closures and bridge failures.

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7:30 a.m.

Officials in western Arkansas are carefully watching a levee that's beginning to deteriorate because of the overflowing Arkansas River.

The Van Buren Police Department says a portion of the levee system in rural Crawford County is "showing signs of significant leakage and deterioration" because of record flows from the river.

The area is near Fort Smith, where historic flooding is occurring because of a rush of water headed downstream from Oklahoma and Kansas.

Police say the Van Buren levee is still functioning but there is a risk of a breach. The National Weather Service predicts the river will remain above record levels in western Arkansas for at least several days.

In Oklahoma, water levels are slowly dropping on the Arkansas River near Tulsa but widespread flooding remains.

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5 a.m.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is activating the Illinois National Guard to respond to recent severe flooding.

Pritzker is holding a Thursday morning news conference at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in Springfield with Adjutant General Richard Neely and others about the planned activation.

The update comes a day after Madison County in southern Illinois was declared a disaster area and National Guard help was sought to aid in flood-fighting efforts. County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said the disaster exists due to record-breaking flooding along the Mississippi River.

Emergency management officials say agencies are pre-positioning equipment near levees and the county has sent its sandbagging machine to Alton. High water has forced some bridges across the Mississippi River to close between Illinois and Missouri, causing detours for some motorists.

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