Floods Force Rescues in Iowa and South Dakota

More than a million people in the Upper Midwest were under flood warnings early Sunday morning, after days of heavy rain caused major flooding, forced evacuations and led to rescues in Iowa and South Dakota.

The flood warnings were in place for rivers in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Some of the warnings were scheduled to end later on Sunday; others were in effect until further notice. A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or already occurring.

In Iowa, several rivers have been peaking above levels reported during a 1993 flood that left 50 dead across the Midwest, according to that state’s governor, Kim Reynolds. She declared a disaster for 21 counties on Saturday, calling the flooding “catastrophic” on social media.

In South Dakota, torrential rain has fallen across the central and eastern parts of the state for three days, and some areas have received up to 18 inches.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota told reporters on Saturday that the worst flooding was expected to occur in the state on Monday and Tuesday as water coursed downstream and into rivers. She added that the Big Sioux River, one of the state’s major waterways, was expected to reach record levels.

Other parts of the United States are grappling with a heat wave that has coincided with a spike in heat-related illnesses over the past week in some regions. Dulles, Va., and Baltimore are among the cities that have broken temperature records. Dangerously hot conditions were forecast for parts of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania until Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said.

The flooding in the Midwest has caused devastation in Rock Valley, Iowa, where the Rock River rose to a record level early Saturday. That led city officials to issue emergency evacuation orders for many of the city’s 4,000 residents. The city was without clean water because its wells had been contaminated by floodwaters, the local authorities said on social media.

Sioux City Fire Rescue, which helped to evacuate people from Rock Valley, said on social media that many people and animals stranded in floodwaters in the city had been rescued by emergency teams with boats. In neighboring Nebraska, Gov. Jim Pillen said in a statement that he had authorized a military helicopter to help with search and rescue operations.

About 15 miles southwest of Rock Valley, parts of Hawarden, Iowa, were also evacuated, city officials said on social media. Hawarden has a population of about 2,000.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., emergency services rescued nine people from floodwaters, Regan Smith, the city’s emergency manager, said at a news conference on Saturday. Emergency services responded to five stranded drivers, 30 stalled vehicles in water, 10 calls about water problems and 75 traffic accidents, he added.


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