Early Dawn Reservoir Break Sends a Billion Gallons Down Black River

December 14, 2005--Posted at 5:30 p.m. CDT

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI--About one billion gallons of water poured from a breached reservoir in a sparsely populated area ofSoutheast Missouri just before dawn today. What would you do if over a billion gallons of water was coming your way? Residents across Region 8 had that reality this morning as a breach in a reservoir near Lesterville, Missouri sent water rushing down the Black River

"Just hang in there, I don't think it is going to get too bad that is my opinion I am not that worried about it," said Butler County resident Edgar Lourance.

Lourance has lived 200 feet from the Black River his who life and has seen flood waters come and go and doesn't think the billion plus gallons of water more than a 100 miles away is cause for concern.

"No not really lot of ground for it to spread out in," said Lourance.

According to Gary Gaines in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources the Clearwater Dam which sits around 40 miles north of Poplar Bluff is expected to completely contain the runoff. So residents in Region 8 living near the Black River south of Piedmont will see no effects at all.

Now the dam that broke is located 120 miles southwest of St. Louis, in between residents of Region 8 and where the dam broke is the Clearwater Dam which helps control the flow up and down the Black River.

"I think that medium on it will hold that probably to hold it all as a rule I am hoping," said Lourance.

Now the reservoir that broke sits along the New Madrid Fault Line but experts have ruled out seismic activity and high waters as cause for the breach.

We are bringing in experts, geologists from Chicago to look at the situation and tell us exactly what happened, what caused the failure but we really can't tell you at this time why the failure of the reservoir occurred," said Gary Rainwater, President & CEO of Ameren UE.

For the time being it appears the region dodged a major bullet.

"Everybody right now at this point has been accounted for, we did have some people their house was swept away, a family and they are being treated right now at one of the local hospitals for hypothermia but they are still alive, thank God," said Gary Barton the Reynolds County Sheriff.

3 children are in critical condition in a St. Louis hospital following the reservoir break.