Four Hospitalized After Southeast Missouri Reservoir Breach

DECEMBER 14, 2005 - Posted at 3:29 p.m. CST

LESTERVILLE, MO - .As many as four people are hospitalized after a southeast Missouri reservoir broke this morning, washing away a number of homes and vehicles.

Officials at St. Louis-based utility AmerenUE said the upper portion of two reservoirs at its Taum Sauk Lake hydroelectric plant in Reynolds County breached at about 5:30 a.m. today.

Authorities said one person who was feared missing has been accounted for.

Governor Matt Blunt said three or four members of the family of the superintendent at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park near the plant were hospitalized after water swamped their home.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is trying to find the cause of the breach, but AmerenUE said there was no sign of foul play.

The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault line, which often generates small earthquakes.  But Blunt said there was no seismic activity this morning.

Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal.  He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir fails, massive amounts of water could surge downstream.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)