In this aerial image provided by Yell County Sheriff's Department water rushes through the levee along the Arkansas River in Dardanelle, Arkansas. Image Credit: AP

Little Rock, Arkansas: Relentless flooding in the central US on Friday inundated communities and damaged or spilt over levees on three major rivers in two states, and authorities discovered the body of a drowning victim at a Missouri lake.

The fast-flowing Arkansas River smashed a 12-metre hole in a levee in rural western Arkansas, causing water to spill into a nearby community. In north-east Missouri, a levee was overtopped on the Mississippi River, and another levee was topped on the Missouri River in the central part of the state.

Late Friday, the National Weather Service in Little Rock said in a tweet that a levee had failed in North Little Rock and flash flooding was expected.

“Move to higher ground and heed the advice of local officials,” the weather service said.

The flooding has been building for days because of heavy rainfall upstream. In Arkansas, officials were warning of more potential problems on an already strained levee system.

“These levees were not built to sustain this high a flow for this long, and we are seeing problems and there more than likely will be more,” said Laurie Driver, spokeswoman for the US Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District.

In eastern Missouri, the state Highway Patrol’s Water Division reported that the body of 57-year-old Lane Panasuk, of Butte, Montana, was recovered Thursday evening from Harry S. Truman Lake in Henry County, but the patrol said it did not know why he was in the water.

The US Army Corps of Engineers had warned visitors about high water levels that had closed most of the campgrounds around the lake and a road over its dam.

In Arkansas, the levee breached at Dardanelle, about 95km north-west of Little Rock. Yell County officials had anticipated the breach and urged residents in the nearby Holla Bend area to evacuate Thursday.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said crews went door to door to recommend evacuation for about 160 homes.

Yell County Emergency Manager Jeff Gilkey told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that rapid currents from the river ripped a 12-metre section from the levee. Aerial video posted by the sheriff’s office Friday showed water pouring through the hole.

“There was nothing we could do to stop it,” Gilkey said.

National Weather Service data showed a dip in the water level at Dardanelle, likely due to the breach. A flash flood warning was issued early Friday for the area, and forecasters said residents should be prepared for rapidly rising water. Local officials said they were uncertain where the water would end up.

“Water is going to do what it wants to do,” Yell County Judge Mark Thone told reporters at a news conference. “We’re just trying to head this off.”

The levee breached because of ongoing flooding along the Arkansas River, which began in Oklahoma. Late Thursday night, President Donald Trump approved the Arkansas request for a disaster declaration in 16 counties affected by the flooding. Governor Asa Hutchinson said the declaration will help the state minimise the loss, but added that “this is far from over.”

Hutchinson said emergency officials were working on getting ahead of the flooding as it continues south-east, trying to identify and strengthen any other pressure points or weak spots in the levee system.

“Obviously the breach in Dardanelle is a sign that there could be more of these breaches that will happen as pressure continues to mount in the coming days,” Hutchinson said.

Entergy Arkansas said Friday that it does not anticipate any impact to its nuclear plant near the Arkansas River in Russellville.