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CANTON, Mo. — The levees along the Mississippi River offer a patchwork of unpredictable protections. Some are tall and earthen, others aging and sandy, and many along its tributaries uncataloged by federal officials.
The levees are owned and maintained by all sorts of towns, agencies, even individual farmers, making the work in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri last week of gaming the flood — calculating where water levels would exceed the capacity of the protective walls — especially agonizing.