Floodwaters have begun to recede in parts of northwest Missouri, even as the surging Missouri River continues to strain levees as it makes its way downstream.

In St. Joseph, cats and dogs have been returned to an animal shelter after they were evacuated last week amid Midwest flooding that has breached about 20 levees. Some Red Cross emergency shelters also are closing as evacuated residents head home.

The crest that spread out for miles in northwest Missouri has caused few problems in central parts of the state. The river crested Wednesday at Glasgow at 31.8 feet, almost seven feet above flood stage, and at Boonville at 28.3 feet, more than seven feet above flood stage.

At Jefferson City, the river was 26.4 feet on Wednesday afternoon, more than three feet above flood stage. It is expected to rise slightly on Thursday.

The river is expected to remain above flood stage in central Missouri for most of next week. Those forecasts take into account weather predictions for 1 to 2 inches of rain this week across much of the state.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says about 130 roads remained closed. Route 87 was closed near Franklin in Howard County and Route 179 near Sandy Hook in Moniteau County are the only highways in the area closed because of high water.

Sections of the Katy Trail State Park are flooded and other sections are open for local vehicles to bypass flooded areas. River Road near Cooper’s Landing was flooded, as is Hartsburg Bottom Road in southern sections of Boone County.

Most of the closed roads are in northwest Missouri, including hard-hit Holt County, where cleanup was underway Wednesday at a school in the flooded town of Craig.

The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that many communities devastated by the floods won’t see federal aid any time soon.

That’s because the water must completely recede before the state can complete damage estimates, according to State Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Caty Eisterhold. Impacted areas must reach a certain threshold of damage to qualify for federal public assistance.

The state of emergency Gov. Mike Parson declared Thursday allows the state to eventually apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.

For the state to qualify for public assistance, there must be nearly $9 million in flood damage statewide, according to Eisterhold. The hardest hit counties -- Atchison, Holt and Buchanan -- must have about $21,500, $18,500 and $337,200 in damage, respectively, to qualify. The figures are based on population.

In the meantime, Missouri senators are pressing for aid and answers.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was able to secure changes in a supplemental $3 billion disaster relief bill Tuesday to include flood victims. The original bill included assistance only for victims of natural disasters that occurred in 2018.

“The recent flooding in Missouri has left many family farms completely devastated,” Blunt said in a statement. “I appreciate Chairman (Richard) Shelby’s partnership in making sure Missouri has access to funds to respond to the extensive flood damage in our state. In light of the urgent need for disaster relief, I hope the House and Senate will be able to quickly come together and get a bill to the president’s desk.”

While Blunt worked on aid, Missouri’s junior senator met with senior Army Corps of Engineers officials Tuesday afternoon. Farmers along the Missouri River have long been suspect of the Corps’ management of the river.

The meeting was offered to Sen. Josh Hawley by Secretary of the Army Mark Esper during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, after Hawley questioned Esper about the floods.

In a statement released after the meeting, Hawley said he was “even more alarmed at the agency’s lack of clear priorities.”

Agency officials listed eight priorities, many of which were in tension with each other and were not integrated into a clear operating plan, Hawley said.

“The Corps is hamstrung on the one hand by radical environmentalist lobbyists that are forcing the agency to prioritize wildlife over farmers,” Hawley said in the statement. “This is made worse by the fact that Congress has failed to give the Corps a clear ranking of priorities or clear orders on how to achieve them.”

He called for broad reforms, including an overhaul of the agency’s master manual and moving the Corps to a different federal department. Possibilities for a new home include the Departments of Transportation or Interior.

Environmental groups have long said the Corps’ management in prioritizing farm levees over floodplains and wetlands that absorb the river’s natural flooding has exacerbated the damage.