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Roads and bridges wash away; towns isolated


Flooding has reached record levels at 17 locations across Nebraska. The state’s emergency management agency says more record crests are expected in various rivers by Tuesday. (March 18)

Roads and bridges were washed out, fresh water systems were swamped, and rescue operations were in full swing Monday as rivers across a swath of the Midwest rose to record levels following days of heavy rains.

“This is really the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, ” Gov. Pete Ricketts told CNN. “So many people are being displaced; towns are being isolated.”

The culprit is a combination of runoff into rivers from the “bomb cyclone” storm that blasted across the Midwest last week and spring snowmelt after a winter of heavy snows.

Thousands of people in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri have been driven from their homes by the fast-rising waters. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and a Nebraska man has been missing for days. Some areas are bracing for more rain Tuesday, forecasters said. 

More than 2,000 Iowans have fled their homes since heavy rains triggered flooding last week. Some residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes Sunday and Monday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees.

Hundreds of homes have flooded in northwest Missouri after the river breached several levees there. About 100 roads were closed because of high water, and Holt County Emergency Management Director Tom Bullock said Monday that many homes were inundated with 6 to 7 feet of water. One couple required a helicopter rescue.

In Nebraska, Ricketts said first responders, aided by the National Guard, had completed more than 300 rescues across the state. 

Offutt Air Force Base posted pictures on Facebook depicting large sections of the base swamped by flooding, and officials said the water wasn’t likely to recede until Thursday.

“The Warhawks are Air Combat Command’s most deployed Wing and even a 1,000 year flood won’t change that,” the post said.

In Lincoln, city officials said some power losses and a water pressure issue led to establishment of mandatory water use restrictions: no outdoor use and postpone laundry and even bathing.

“Let’s all do our part to conserve the current water supply,” the mayor’s offices said in a statement.

Rain will spread back across the central Plains on Tuesday and may be mixed with wet snow along its northern fringe, AccuWeather warned.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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