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Rescues and evacuations as floodwaters breach levees in US Midwest

World News | Published:

At least one person has died after bridges were washed out in the deluge.

Rescue efforts are under way in parts of the American Midwest after a recent deluge of rain and melted snow poured over frozen ground, overwhelming creeks and rivers and killing at least one person.

Levee breaches and washouts of bridges and roads hampered operations in eastern Nebraska, including part of Nebraska Highway 92, leading in and out of south-west Omaha.

Authorities confirmed that a bridge on that major road which crosses the Elkhorn River had been washed out on Saturday.

In Freemont, west of Omaha, the Dodge County sheriff’s office issued a mandatory evacuation for some residents after floodwaters broke through a levee along the Platte River.

Flooding in Illinois
Floodwaters in Freeport, Illinois (Scott P Yates/Rockford Register Star via AP)

The family of farmer James Wilke, 50, of Columbus, Nebraska, said he was killed on Thursday when a bridge collapsed as he was using his tractor to try to reach stranded motorists on Thursday.

His body was found downstream, his cousin Paul Wilke told the Columbus Telegram.

At least two other people are missing in floodwaters in Nebraska. Officials said a Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late on Thursday before being swept away in the water, and another man was swept away by waters when a dam collapsed on the Niobrara River.

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Officials in Sarpy County, south of Omaha, said power may be shut off to communities along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers for safety reasons.

Rescue efforts
Green Bay firefighters assist residents in evacuating their homes due to the East river flooding in Wisconsin (AP)

Some cities and towns, such as North Bend on the banks of the Platte River, were submerged. Others, such as Waterloo and Freemont, were surrounded by floodwaters, stranding residents in virtual islands with no access in or out.

Further east, the Mississippi River saw moderate flooding in Illinois from Rock Island south to Gladstone.

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Flooding in Wisconsin
The swollen Pecatonica River spills into Darlington, Wisconsin (Dave Kettering/AP)

He said of the flooding on the Mississippi: “What we’re having now is the dress rehearsal for the main event that’s going to happen in early April.”

Rising waters along the Pecatonica and Rock rivers flooded some homes in the northern Illinois cities of Freeport, Rockford and Machesney Park.

The National Weather Service said record crests were possible along the rivers, with water levels forecast to continue to rise over the next several days and remain above flood stage through most of the weekend.

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