The Latest: Iowa, Nebraska driving hampered by flooding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):
Travel in western Iowa is still hampered by flooding, and officials there and in eastern Nebraska are urging people not to drive if they don’t need to.
The Iowa Department of Transportation’s website says northbound Interstate 29 from the Missouri state line to about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north near the Pacific Junction exit remains closed due to flooding. Drivers on I-29 are being rerouted onto Interstate 35 in Kansas City, Missouri, north to Des Moines, Iowa, then over I-80 back to I-29 at Council Bluffs.
The detour takes drivers almost 140 miles (225 kilometers) out of the way.
Nebraska authorities are issuing a mandatory evacuation for some neighborhoods after a levee along the Platte River in the city of Fremont.
Officials ordered residents in certain areas to leave their homes as floodwater rushed in.
Trinity Lutheran and Salem Lutheran churches in Fremont have been opened as shelters.
Crews in parts of Nebraska are using boats to rescue people in floodwaters. The flooding happened after a deluge of recent rainwater and snowmelt was sent pouring over frozen ground, overwhelming creeks and rivers.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by reports of levee breaches and washouts of bridges and roads, including part of Nebraska Highway 92 leading in and out of southwest Omaha. Authorities also confirmed that a bridge on that highway that crosses the Elkhorn River had been washed.
Rescue and evacuation efforts have been continuing in many areas of eastern Nebraska, where a deluge of recent rainwater and snowmelt was sent pouring over frozen ground, overwhelming creeks and rivers.
Efforts overnight and into Saturday were hampered by reports of levee breaches and washouts of bridges and roads, including part of Highway 92 leading in and out of southwest Omaha. Authorities also confirmed Saturday that a bridge on that highway that crosses the Elkhorn River had been washed out Saturday.
The towns of North Bend and a large portion of Columbus were submerged Friday. Emergency workers used boats to evacuate residents.
The National Weather Service says recent heavy rains paired with rising temperatures melting snow are causing flooding in the Midwest.
Weather service meteorologist Brian Pierce in Davenport, Iowa, says moderate flooding Saturday along the Mississippi River is just the beginning. Pierce calls it the “dress rehearsal for the main event that’s going to happen in early April.” He says there’s snow in Minnesota and Wisconsin that’s yet to melt.
Pierce says when it does there will be another round of flooding in those states that will then move south along the Mississippi River into Illinois and Iowa.
The Mississippi River recorded moderate flooding Saturday from Rock Island, Illinois, south to Burlington, Iowa.
Flooding is also occurring along other rivers and creeks in the Midwest. In eastern Nebraska, at least one person is dead and two others are missing.
At least one person has died and at least two others are missing in floodwaters that have swamped towns and farmland, washed out roads and bridges and drowned livestock in Nebraska in the wake of a late-winter storm that overwhelmed rivers and creeks with rain and snowmelt.
The family of 50-year-old James Wilke, of Columbus, Nebraska, says he was driving his tractor to rescue stranded motorists on a county road cut off by flooding Thursday when a bridge he was crossing collapsed. His cousin, Paul Wilke, told the Columbus Telegram that James Wilke’s body was found downstream. Gass Haney Funeral Home confirmed James Wilke’s death.
Officials in other parts of Nebraska say a Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away in the water and another man is missing after being swept away by waters when a dam collapsed on the Niobrara River.