CHICAGO (AFP) – The United States (US) Midwest struggled on Monday with historic flooding that claimed at least three lives, displaced residents and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.
Swollen waters hit much of Nebraska, as well as parts of Iowa and Wisconsin. All were under states of emergency after a major storm last week dumped snow and rain, even as melting snow was already raising the levels of area waterways.
Neighbouring states could also be affected as floodwaters drain, officials said.
“Major to historic river flooding is expected to continue across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins due to rapid snow melt the past few days,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
“Flood warnings and advisories remain in effect, mainly across eastern Nebraska and into parts of Iowa.”
Across Nebraska, record flooding has been reported in 17 locations and could last a week, according to officials.
At its highest point, the Missouri River was expected to crest at 14.5 metres, beating its 2011 record by more than one foot.
“Comparisons to 2011 were inevitable,” the NWS office in Iowa tweeted, “but these floods have resulted in many more rescues and widespread damage in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.”
Failing levees were blamed for flooding in numerous communities – damaging homes and businesses.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains federal levee systems, said a majority were compromised along an approximately 100-mile portion of the Missouri River in southeast Nebraska.
Hundreds of people were rescued by the Nebraska National Guard and emergency workers, officials said, while the American Red Cross set up two dozen shelters in the state.