A t Third and Orleans, the Great Pacific Coffee Company in Pacific, Mo., turned into ground zero Friday in the battle against what locals have dubbed the "Great Flood of '08."
With floodwaters already swamping 184 homes and 36 businesses in the historic railroad hamlet, the family that owns the century-old building put up a valiant stand. They built a berm out of hundreds of cocoa-colored sacks filled with sand. They waited with flood pumps and hoses. And inch by inch, they watched the muddy water lap at their life's treasure as they waited to retaliate.
"If we can just keep the water out we have a fighting chance," said owner Dave McHugh, whose family built the three-story red brick building in the early 1900s with artifacts from the 1904 World's Fair. "We won't let it go down easy."
Feverish fights were waged Friday all across the hilly swaths of suburbia southwest of St. Louis against the surging Meramec River. Mostly, the river was winning.
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"We're challenged, we're sick of it, and we're fed up," said Mike Claffey, a spokesman with the Illinois Transportation Department.
He said that since November, his agency has used 300,000 tons of rock salt on roads in the Chicago area, more than twice the amount used in a typical winter.
In addition to the snow, Claffey said Chicago's weather this winter, sometimes jumping from freezing temperatures to days that felt like spring, has wreaked havoc on pavement. "We've used twice as much asphalt as we did last year to fill all the potholes this winter," he said.
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In Arkansas, residents of the tiny prairie community of Georgetown along the White River were warned to leave the area Friday after forecasters said a backwater slough would cut off access by late evening and leave them stranded well into next week.
But at least some residents were taking the bad news in stride.
"I've been here all my life. We've been through this for years and years and years. It don't get us excited. We just take it as it goes," said Georgetown Fire Chief Eddie Stephenson, 65, who also is a city councilman.
But he did say that about half of the town's 126 residents were getting out.
Information from the Chicago Tribune, Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.