Trevor Beck sits on a pile of sandbags outside of a bank in downtown LaGrange, Mo., Tuesday where the Mississippi River crested and washed through Main Street. ((Quincy Herald Whig, Jennifer Coombes/Associated Press))

Floodwaters breached another levee in Illinois Wednesday as residents in other parts of the U.S. Midwest scrambled to shore up embankments along the Mississippi River.

The breach happened in the western Illinois town of Meyer, forcing the some 50 residents to leave their homes, Adams County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Julie Shepard said.

Along the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri, officials were monitoring other levees to see if they will hold against the rising waters.

The flooding began in eastern Iowa, causing more than $1.5 billion in damage and forcing thousands from their homes as it moved south.

On Tuesday, the river also broke through a levee in Gulfport, Mo., forcing authorities to rescue people by helicopter, boat and four-wheelers.

Lois Russell was among those who watched the flooding of her house.

"What else am I going to do? Where else am I going to go?" said the 83-year-old Russell, who had lived in the white farmhouse for 57 years.

The Mississippi River is expected to threaten a number of other communities later in the week.

In Clarksville, a historic artists' town of 500, National Guard members, inmates and students were sandbagging. Five blocks were already under water, but volunteers worked to save buildings housing shops of artisans.

"We fix one thing and it breaks," Mayor Jo Anne Smiley said. "Sewers are plugged up. We have leaks in walls and people who need things. We're boating in food to people."

Though the water jeopardized numerous homes and businesses, officials said the damage could have been worse if not for the measures taken by the federal government following the 1993 floods.

The government bought out thousands of homeowners, including entire communities, turning land into parks or leaving it undeveloped to allow for the area to be flooded without harm.

Known as the Great Flood of 1993, it was one of the costliest and most devastating floods in U.S. modern history, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes, killing 47 people and costing $15 billion in damages.

With files from the Associated Press