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This time, muskrat did it

WINFIELD, Mo. — A heroic effort by hundreds of townspeople and the National Guard failed to hold back the Mississippi River Friday, and burrowing muskrats got much of the blame.

The furry rodents dug holes through an earthen levee in the eastern Missouri community of 720 residents, hastening the floodwall's collapse. It failed shortly before dawn.

But within hours, defiant residents were mounting a new defense — a quickly constructed, 4-foot-tall sandbag levee to protect 100 homes in the floodwaters' path. "We're not quitting — the Army doesn't quit," said National Guard Col. Michele Melton.

The only good news was the location of the breach, at the far southern corner of the levee. That meant floodwaters would have to cover 3,000 acres before approaching a cluster of homes at the north edge of the flood plain. Melton was confident the sandbag levee would be up by then.

Elsewhere in Missouri, the flood news was improving.

>>Fast facts

About muskrats

• Adult is 22 to 25 inches long and weighs about 21/2 pounds.

• In water much of the time; their broad hind feet are partly webbed.

• Live in houses made of vegetation or in burrows dug into banks. Both houses and burrows have underwater entrances and above-water living chambers. Damage to dikes and levees from their extensive tunneling is a common problem. Missouri game rules allow the trapping or shooting of muskrats that cause property damage.

University of Missouri, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This time, muskrat did it 06/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 1:49pm]
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