Update: Midwest Severe Weather and Flooding

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Wicked weekend storms with tornadoes and heavy rain pounded the Midwest, where at least three people drowned and one was missing in floodwaters that swallowed roads and neighborhoods.

Rescuers in boats continued to pluck people from rising waters in Indiana, a day after more than 10 inches of rain deluged much of the state. At least one person drowned, and another person was missing after falling off an airboat in a flooded area, state police said.

In Michigan, two delivery workers for The Grand Rapids Press drowned early Sunday when their car became submerged in a creek that washed out a road about 4 a.m. near Lake Michigan in Saugatuck Township, the newspaper said.

At least one tornado hit the Omaha, Neb., area with little to no warning as people slept Sunday morning, damaging several dozen homes and businesses. No major injuries were reported.

"I'd say it was a miracle no one got killed," said Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey as he toured a heavily damaged neighborhood in the west Omaha area of Millard.

Paul Higgins, 87, said the front door blew open and he was knocked down when he checked on the storm around 2:30 a.m.

"At the time you couldn't see anything" outside, Higgins said. "It was like a fog. So much stuff blowing around."

Higgins said he and his wife sought shelter in their basement, emerging to find a tree against a house across the street and a neighboring house missing its roof.

In Wisconsin, more than a dozen homes near the swollen Kickapoo River in La Farge were evacuated. A temporary shelter is being set up at the high school.

Vernon County got more than 4 inches of rain Saturday, storms were expected to drop perhaps the same amount on Sunday, said Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter.

Flights at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport resumed Sunday after a nearly 12-hour closure from Saturday night's storms. The airport said runways were closed because of standing water and pavement damage.

Parts of southeastern Minnesota were under a flood warning because of heavy rains.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said 23 of the state's 92 counties were declared disasters.

In Morgan County, southwest of Indianapolis, about 150 residents were taken out of a flooded nursing home. Floodwaters that were moving south to eventually drain into the Ohio River led officials to move more than 250 patients and employees from Columbus Regional Hospital in southern Indiana. Workers pumped water out of the basement, and a couple inches of mud covered the first floor of the center, which was forced to close.

Jack Elkins, 67, who has lived in Columbus since 1963, said his condominium near the hospital was inundated with water in a matter of minutes Saturday night. Once the storm drains filled up, it took 15 minutes for about 8 inches of water to ruin his place.

"It looked like a river in front of my house," he said as he took a break from ripping up carpeting and flooring.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said many of the flood victims told him how quickly floodwaters rose, catching them off guard.

"This thing came on fast with such a radical deluge of water that people were describing going from a feeling of security to waist-deep water in a matter or 15 or 20 minutes," he said Sunday.

The rising White River also forced officials in the southern city of Seymour to order the evacuation of more than 100 homes.

Daniels said that there had been some looting reported in the city but that extra police had been sent to prevent it from happening again. In western Indiana, Terre Haute also was dealing with serious flooding.

A Johnson County dam was breached by the high water but had not failed, Erickson said.

"It's in bad shape," Erickson said.

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