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Midwest floods collapse bridge, force evacuation and kill at least two

Midwest floods collapse bridge, force evacuation and kill at least two

Midwest floods collapse bridge, force evacuation and kill at least two

NORTH SIOUX CITY, SD (AP) — Flooding in the US Midwest

NORTH SIOUX CITY, SD (AP) — Flooding in the U.S. Midwest killed at least two people, collapsed a railroad bridge and sent water rising around a dam Monday after days of heavy rains forced hundreds of people to evacuate or be rescued from rising waters. .

An Illinois man died Saturday while trying to get around a roadblock in Spencer, Iowa, KTIV-TV in Sioux City reported Monday.

The Little Sioux River swept away his truck, according to a Clay County Sheriff’s Office news release provided to the station. Officials found the vehicle in the tree line, but were unable to recover his body until Monday due to hazardous conditions.

At least one person died in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem said without giving details.

Flooding has brought added misery to parts of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota during a vast and stubborn heat wave. In some communities affected by the floods, the temperature on Monday afternoon approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius).

More than 3 million people live in flood-prone areas from Omaha, Nebraska to St. Paul, Minnesota. Storms dumped huge amounts of rain Thursday through Saturday, with up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) falling south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service.

Places that didn’t get as much rain had to deal with the extra water moving downstream. More rain is forecast and many creeks may not rise until later this week as floodwaters slowly drain down a network of rivers into the Missouri and Mississippi. Missouri will peak at Omaha on Thursday, said Kevin Low, a weather service hydrologist.

Flooding in the Omaha area on Monday prompted Amtrak to use buses to transport passengers temporarily, according to an Amtrak spokesman.

“I’ve never had to evacuate my house,” said Hank Howley, a 71-year-old resident of North Sioux City, South Dakota, as he joined others on a levee on the Big Sioux River, where the railway bridge collapsed a day earlier. She hasn’t had to evacuate in the last few days either, but she said: “We are on the highest place in the city. But what good is that when the rest of the city is flooded? It makes me nervous.”

The bridge connected North Sioux City, South Dakota, to Sioux City, Iowa, and fell into the Big Sioux River around 11 p.m. Sunday, officials said. Images from local media showed a large area of ​​the steel bridge partially underwater as floodwaters rushed over it.

No injuries were reported from the crash. The bridge’s owner, BNSF Railway, has stopped operating it as a precaution during flooding, spokeswoman Kendall Sloan said. The railway said the bridge was only used by a few trains a day and the rerouting was not expected to have a significant impact.

The Big Sioux River had stabilized at about 45 feet (13.7 meters) Monday morning, more than 7 feet (2.1 meters) higher than the previous record, Sioux City Fire Chief Mark Aesoph said.

In North Sioux City, the South Dakota Department of Transportation built a berm Sunday night on Interstate 29 to stem flooding, temporarily blocking the main route. In other areas where the highway remained open, water seeped onto the road. Howley, who has lived there for 33 years, said she has grown increasingly concerned about more frequent severe flooding around I-29.

Flooding for days damaged roads and bridges, shuttered or destroyed businesses, forced the evacuation of hospitals and nursing homes and left cities without power or safe drinking water, the governors of Iowa and Dakota said. South.

“I keep thinking about all the things that we’ve lost and maybe the little things that we were able to get back and hold on to,” said Aiden Engelkes of the northwest Iowa community of Spencer, who imposed curfews during record-breaking floods in 1953. “And then I think about where my friends are, because their stuff is gone too.”

Over the weekend, Iowa Department of Natural Resources crews evacuated families with children and a person who used a wheelchair from flooded homes, Director Kayla Lyon told reporters. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the department performed 250 water rescues Saturday.

“At one point we had 22 conservation officers doing water rescues, navigating a pretty nasty current,” Lyon said.

Outside Mankato, Minn., the local sheriff’s office said there was a “partial failure” of the west support structure of the Rapidan Dam on the Blue Earth River after the dam became clogged with debris. The flowing water eroded the western bank.

Eric Weller, director of emergency management for the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office, said the bank will likely erode more, but he did not expect the concrete dam itself to fail. The two houses downstream have already been evacuated.

A 2019 Associated Press investigation into dams across the country found that the Rapidan Dam was in normal condition and that there would likely be property loss if it had not failed. A pair of 2021 studies said repairs would cost more than $15 million and removal more than $80 million.

In Spencer, Engelkes was still unable to return to his first-floor apartment in a building near the Des Moines River on Monday, nor was he able to go to work at a flooded chicken hatchery.

He spent more than seven hours Saturday in a friend’s fourth-floor apartment waiting to be rescued by a boat, his 2013 Chevy SUV under the rough waters except for part of the antenna. Rescuers broke a window in a second-floor stairwell and nearly 70 people crawled out, volunteers boating them in fours and fives.

Engelkes and his girlfriend left with a bag of clothes, three cats in a stroller and a kitten that his girlfriend was carrying in his shirt. Their apartment had about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water, but they still hope to recover the electronics they placed above. Now I sit with his mother on higher ground.

About 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of Spencer in Rock Valley, Deb Kempema lost her home decor store, First Impressions, after a levee broke.

It was “7,000 square meters of very beautiful, lovely things. And it’s all gone,” she told KELO-TV.

While power outages were minimal in the affected states Monday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us, south of Rock Valley, water surrounded the power substation in Correctionville, causing an outage.

President Joe Biden was briefed by his national security team about the flooding in Iowa, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had personnel there, the White House said.

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Fingerhut reported from Des Moines, Iowa, and Hanna from Topeka, Kansas. Associated Press reporters Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska; Summer Ballentine of Columbia, Missouri; Seung Min Kim in Washington; Christopher L. Keller of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Scott McFetridge, in Des Moines, Mike Phillis in St. Louis and Mark Vancleave in Mankato, Minnesota.

Margery A. Beck, Hannah Fingerhut, and John Hanna, Associated Press