Some restaurants were affected but appeared to be coping well with the historic flooding along the upper Mississippi River and its tributaries after Christmas week rains.

The unusual wintertime flooding, fed by more than 10 inches of rain in the region over a three-day period that began on Christmas Day, was blamed for at least 25 deaths in Illinois and Missouri.

The river’s crest passed St. Louis over the New Year’s weekend and was expected in Memphis, Tenn., later this week and farther downstream to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi over the next several weeks.

A spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. said the chain saw no impact at any of its fast-casual units. However, some lowland restaurants near the Missouri, Meramec and other rivers saw minor flooding, as well as other effects.

In High Ridge, Mo., a McDonald’s restaurant was under a boil order for all water because of flooding at a water-treatment plant in the municipality southwest of St. Louis.

At Pegg's on the Boulevard in High Ridge, crews delivered portable toilets, and owner Peggy Schroeder was serving bottled water inside.

"I mean, it's a little more expense," Schroeder told Fox News. "But it's well worth it to be able to keep your business open and serve the community."

Most customers were also under the boil order in their homes, she said.

"Business hasn't really slowed down too much, maybe due to the folks that have lost their residences,” Schroeder said. “I spoke with the Jefferson County Health Department today, and we felt it was safe. We've been in full compliance with them to keep our business open." Schroeder expected the boil order to last a week.

The Mississippi River was receding except in the far southern tip of both Missouri and Illinois, ABC News reported.

President Barack Obama signed a federal emergency declaration Saturday for Missouri, allowing federal aid to be used to help state and local response efforts.

In St. Clair County, Ill., just east of St. Louis, emergency management director Herb Simmons said the flood waters were higher than in the destructive 1993 flood.

"In '93 that water came up and stayed on the levees for several months," Simmons said. "This flood came up quick and went down quick."

Moderate Mississippi River flooding was expected in Memphis, Tenn. The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for the Cumberland River at Dover, Tenn., through Monday evening. Minor flooding along the Ohio River was affecting the Kentucky cities of Owensboro and Paducah, and the crest wasn't expected until Thursday.

The National Weather Service said Monday that more flooding was possible in Arkansas as water from recent storms flows south and eastward.

In Little Rock, Ark., on Saturday, the Arkansas River reached its high point at 24.9 feet. Weather forecasters said the river crested a day earlier than expected, but it will stay above flood stage through at least Wednesday.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has declared 38 of the state’s 75 counties disaster areas.

Jim Thomas, owner of the Island Harbor Marina in Pine Bluff, Ark., said Saturday that he had "had better days."

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
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