CHICAGO - Heavy flooding along the Mississippi River has caused up to $1 billion of damage, according to President Clinton.
Thomas Zimmerman, a division manager for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said the flood has placed state and local governments in a "precarious" position.
"It's inconsequential what the [estimates] are now. It's too soon to tell. But it's going to be big," Zimmerman said. "It will not break the yardsticks, but it will clearly break the bank for state and local governments."
Government officials also said it is too early to place definitive price tags on the damages. Some said they will have to wait until the flood waters recede before they can adequately assess damages.
Surveying damage over the weekend, President Clinton estimated costs at $1 billion in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, according to reports in The Chicago Tribune.
Clinton signed legislation Friday releasing $100 million of federal disaster assistance funds to the region. While in Davenport, Iowa, on Sunday, the President indicated he would sign a bill to provide an additional 297 million, according to Ruth Reynolds, a Davenport alderman, speaking on behalf of Mayor Pat Gibbs.
Agriculture secretary Mike Espy has said the administration will seek another $850 minion of relief funds from Congress.
In Davenport, damages have been estimated at $100 million by the mayor, Reynolds said. She said the estimate includes city, residential, and business losses. She attributed some of the loss to the shutdown of a riverboat casino due to the flooding.
Norton Strommen, chief meteorologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the area near Davenport has experienced the worst flooding in 100 years.
John Gardner, president of the Quad Cities Development Group, said the river near Davenport crested over the weekend at 22 feet, about seven feet above normal levels. The group is responsible for economic development efforts in the Quad Cities area, which comprises Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, and Rock Island.
Rating agency officials said they will hold their comments until they can determine the impact of the flood on individual credits when the waters subside.
Ray Wagner, director of information for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, said that losses to farmers in the five-state region probably will exceed $750 million.
"This is a big one in that area. It's serious," Wagner said.
Barge traffic on the Mississippi River has come to a halt from Iowa to Missouri due to the high waters, according to Ellen Gordon, administrator of emergency management in Iowa.