COMMENTS: Show Me the Floods

In a week whose news started with financial crisis on Wall Street, moved on to racial politics on the campaign trail and followed with continuing war in Iraq, Thursday's turn to mere weather made for an unusually straightforward Story of the Day. A line of storms that dumped torrential rains from Texas to Pennsylvania caused heaviest floods in Missouri, where a disaster has been declared in 70 counties. All three networks led off their newscasts by showing us rising waters in the Show Me state.

NBC had Ron Mott in Poplar Bluff along the Meramec River; CBS and ABC led off from in Eureka, where the Big River was getting bigger. CBS' Hari Sreenivasan found the town filling "sandbag after sandbag, one shovel at a time." ABC's Barbara Pinto (embargoed link) called isolated farms and barns "the only punctuation in a sea of swirling mud." ABC followed up from the Blue River in Indiana with Ryan Owens offered the traditional float-by report, boating up Main Street in Milltown, where "every once in a while you see half a STOP sign."

CBS' Cynthia Bowers was in Whitewater Ohio in order to offer a regional overview. The floods were not merely caused by this week's heavy rains but also because "the ground is already so saturated it cannot hold water anymore so any rainfall or snowmelt has to go somewhere. It is going to run off and quickly swell streams and rivers." Bowers repeated a National Weather Service warning of severe floods for the Ohio River, the Mississippi River and the lower Missouri River as winter snows melt--and for river systems in the mid-Atlantic region and New England: "It is going to be a bad spring."


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