Widespread Flooding Brings Misery To Midwest : The Two-Way Officials attributed at least two deaths to the flooding, which has reached historic levels in some areas.
NPR logo Widespread Flooding Brings Misery To Midwest

Widespread Flooding Brings Misery To Midwest

Mathias "Dale" Dekker (right) piloted his boat to rescue John Parker when the Red Cedar River flooded near Michigan State University in East Lansing on Wednesday. Dale G. Young/Detroit News via AP hide caption

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Dale G. Young/Detroit News via AP

Mathias "Dale" Dekker (right) piloted his boat to rescue John Parker when the Red Cedar River flooded near Michigan State University in East Lansing on Wednesday.

Dale G. Young/Detroit News via AP

No immediate relief is in sight for a swath of the Midwest where heavy rain, melting snow and rising rivers have shuttered schools, closed roads and prompted several evacuations.

With rainfall — totaling several inches — not expected to let up until the weekend, the National Weather Service has issued flood watches and flood warnings throughout the region including parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

The combination of rain and snowmelt has "many rivers nearing record flood stage from Chicago to Houston and areas to the east," said the Red Cross.

At least two deaths were attributed to the flooding. A 1-year-old girl died after falling into standing water Wednesday in central Michigan's Fairplain Township, according to the state police, reports The Associated Press. And in Will County, Ill., outside Chicago, a woman was killed after her car rolled over into a rain-filled ditch, reports The Chicago Tribune, citing state police.

High water spurred authorities in Flint, Mich., to shut roadways Tuesday after vehicles got stuck, in one case with floodwaters reaching the doors of a midsize car, reports MLive.

About 50 miles northeast in Lansing, a state of emergency was declared Wednesday "due to imminent flooding in various neighborhoods."

The LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa, Ill., issued "a great big thank you" to volunteers who helped evacuate residents Tuesday night, as the nearby Illinois River has been rising.

South Bend, Ind., is experiencing historic flooding, said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with the St. Joseph River rising to more than 11 feet — surpassing a record of 10.9 feet set in 1982, reports The South Bend Tribune. The river is expected to crest Thursday.

And the mayor of Goshen, Ind., said the Elkhart River also reached a historic level there on Wednesday and was only continuing to rise, reports Jennifer Weingart of member station WVPE.

"We're sort of uncertain because we're in new territory," Goshen City Council member Adam Scharf told Weingart as he bagged sand in a bid to keep the water away from his home. "It's gonna be a foot and a half higher than it's ever been in history, so we don't know exactly where it's gonna go. So we're just trying to prepare for the worst here."

In Elkhart County, Ind., where Goshen is located, the Elkhart River measured 5 1/2 feet above flood stage by late Wednesday afternoon, officials said, prompting first responders to make 100 rescues and evacuations.

"Everything I have is in there," Chris Roland told WBND TV. "And the thought of losing it all just makes me sick.

Evacuees filled at least one shelter to capacity in Elkhart, officials said. The Red Cross is operating shelters across Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

The group advises anyone within a flood-prone area to take precautionary measures, including assembling an emergency kit, creating an evacuation plan that includes pets and paying close attention to flood updates and warnings.

The flooding prompted school closures in several districts this week including in Pulaski County, Ark., and the suburbs of Chicago.

In Mississippi's Delta region, residents were scrambling to pile sandbags Thursday, where a flood threat was in effect through Saturday from a rising Mississippi River, reports the AP.

Correction Feb. 22, 2018

A previous version of this story incorrectly gave Jennifer Weingart's last name as Weingarten in one reference.

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