Major Midwest Flooding Kills At Least 3, More Missing

At least three people are dead and others have been missing for days as a torrent of water from the Missouri River broke levees in southwest Iowa, forcing residents from their homes Sunday, placing them in a similar predicament as residents of neighboring Nebraska, where entire towns were turned into islands. People downstream in Missouri and Kansas are bracing for flooding as the water heads downstream.

Heavy rainfall and rapid snowmelt from last week’s bomb cyclone caused rivers and streams to quickly swell, and more than 8 million people are under flood warnings in the Midwest.

Among the dead is Nebraska farmer James Wilke, who died when he drove his tractor into floodwaters in Platte County to rescue a person who was trapped in a vehicle, according to Nebraska Emergency Management Agency spokesman Mike Wright.

“With the guidance of emergency responders James drove his tractor over the Shell Creek bridge on the Monestary Road and the bridge gave out,” family friend Jodi L. Hefti wrote on Facebook. “James and the tractor went down into the flood water below.”

Wright told CNN another Nebraska man died when he was overcome by flood waters near Spencer, and another person is missing and presumed dead.

Nebraska resident Aleido Rojas Galan, 55, was rescued from the floodwaters in Fremont County, Iowa, but died of his injuries at a hospital in Lincoln.

Farmers and ranchers in the flood-soaked region are expecting catastrophic losses. Paul Allen, who owns a ranch downstream from Spencer Dam in Nebraska, worked frantically to save what he could when the dam broke and flooded the Niobrara River. Firefighters from nearby Lynch and neighbors used four-wheel-drive tractors and pickups to to evacuate two families, including two young children.

“It’s not good,” Allen told the Omaha World-Herald. “We don’t have no clue how many cows we lost, or equipment or machinery.”

Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha, Nebraska, showed pictures on Facebook that showed large sections of the base under water. About 60 buildings were affected, and 30 were completely under water.

“This really is the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, from the standpoint of how widespread it is,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told CNN Monday. About 300 people were rescued, some by helicopter, from floodwaters in his state, which had major flooding in at least 17 locations.

In Iowa, several counties and towns were just getting back to normal after 2011 flooding when the levees broke. More than 2,000 Iowans have been evacuated, USA Today reported.

In Missouri, hundreds of homes have flooded in the northwest section of the state, and about 100 roads were closed because of high water. Many of the homes had six or seven feet of water in them, Tom Bullock, the emergency management director in Holt County said.

The Missouri River has started to recede in some areas, but it is expected to remain at major flood stage between Omaha and Kansas City, Missouri, through most of the week.

Some 210 miles of levees from Omaha to Leavenworth, Kansas, have been compromised, the Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday.

“The majority of the levee system along the Missouri River south of Omaha continues to deteriorate,” said Col. John Hudson, commander of the Omaha district of the Corps of Engineers. “The bulk of the levees are overtopped or breached.”

Flooding was causing delays of up to five hours in Amtrak passenger train service between Kansas City and St. Louis because of flooding and rail congestion. On Monday, Amtrak canceled all of its Missouri River Runner trains, which typically runs between the two metropolitan areas twice a day.

The Mississippi River is also rising. It was at major flood level along the Missouri-Illinois border, and moderate flooding is expected at several Missouri cities, including St. Louis. The Missouri River dumps into the Mississippi just north of St. Louis.

Flooding also has been reported in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The forecast for more rain Tuesday couldn’t come at a worse time. The rain totals will pale in comparison to precipitation unleashed by last week’s bomb cyclone, some of the hardest hit areas could get another inch of rainfall, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Andrews.

“That could trigger new or aggravate problems if that rain targets the areas hit hardest by the flooding,” Andrews said.

That could delay the crest of major rivers, but also cause smaller streams and rivers to “significantly rise,” Andrews said.

For the latest, go to CNN.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

The Elkhorn River consumes a section of western Douglas County Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Omaha, Nebraska. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in Nebraska and Iowa as levees succumbed to the rush of water. (Jeff Bundy/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

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