WASHINGTON (AFP) - Severe storms that ripped through the Midwestern US left at least eight people dead in the state of Arkansas, officials said Tuesday, as flash flood warnings prompted hurried evacuations in neighboring Missouri. Torrential downpours have poured over a swath of the central US states in recent weeks, saturating the ground and leaving river levels precariously high. Authorities Tuesday were evacuating 1,000 people along the swollen Black River near the Missouri city of Poplar Bluff, home to some 17,000 people, as a compromised levee reportedly failed at four points. Due to the placement of the failure, city deputy police chief Jeff Rolland told CNN the river's flooding was headed for rural but still populated Butler County. Flash flood warnings were also issued by the weather service in Arkansas in the wake of severe thunderstorms that brought massive rainfall that swept flood roads, fatally sweeping away at least four people in their vehicles, officials said. A devastating tornado meanwhile slammed the central town of Vilonia late Monday, claiming the lives of four people, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Renee Presslar confirmed to AFP. Search and rescue crews were assessing the damage to the town ahead of fresh storms expected to reach the region later in the day. The four other people swept away by flooding were in the state's northwest, said ADEM spokesman Chad Stover. "There are lot of responders still responding to yesterday's storm, and then preparation is underway for another round of even more severe than we saw yesterday appearing later this afternoon, later this evening," said Stover. "The entire state is at very severe risk for storm... we are urging all of our local citizens to be prepared, to have a plan for their families and where they would go for severe weather," he said. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe declared a state of emergency for his state late Monday night "in response to the severe storms and flooding that have impacted Arkansas," and also warning that there is "also a strong possibility of additional severe storms Tuesday afternoon and evening." The National Weather Service (NWS) has already issued a flash flood warning for three counties in Missouri's southwest as authorities urged evacuations in the face of the failed rising river. "The levee along the Black River from Poplar Bluff... remains compromised in several locations," the NWS warned in an advisory. "A combination of heavy rainfall over the last five days... along with anticipated rainfall over the next 24 to 48 hours" has prompted the river stage of 21.2 feet (6.4 meters), easily eclipsing the river flood stage of 16.0 feet (4.8 meters), said the NWS. The local police force had performed 59 water rescues on Monday alone, Rolland told CNN. States of emergency were declared by governors in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Kentucky due to flooding. In central and south Indiana the NWS issued a flash flood watch amid warnings of more thunderstorms expected through to Wednesday, saying heavy rains on already saturated ground could lead to overflowing rivers later in the week. The NWS issued a similar, but more urgent warning for the small Kentucky town of Sulphur where a dam was on the brink of failing. "If you live near this river... evacuate to higher ground now" NWS cautioned with the unusual use of an exclamation mark. The destructive weather come after weeks of storms sweeping the country's midwestern states, including a massive tornado that tore through St. Louis international airport on Friday that ripped off the roof of the main terminal and blew out windows and doors, but causing no fatalities. Powerful tornadoes also struck several southern and central US states earlier this month, killing 44 people and reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble.