The flood situation in upper mid-western states has worsened over the last few days. Wide areas of Nebraska and Iowa are under water, with many rivers reaching record levels. About 200 miles of levees along the Missouri River have been either breached or overtopped, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Areas of Wisconsin and Missouri have also been affected by the flooding.
At least 3 people have now died in flood-related incidents, with one person reported as still missing. Governors of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin have declared a state of emergency.
Flooding began on 14 March last week after a combination of rain, melting snow and ice jams caused rivers to overflow, prompting evacuations.
More than 300 people have been rescued across the state by the Nebraska State Patrol, National Guard troops, and urban search and rescue teams. Thousands are thought to have evacuated their homes.
Flooding has caused widespread damage to livestock and the state’s highway system. Nebraska Department of Transportation said more than 200 miles of roadways needed repair or replacement. Over 500 miles of highways remain closed. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts called it a disaster of historic proportions.
Flooding has also inundated areas around the Cooper nuclear plant near Brownville and the Offutt Air Force Base near Bellevue. The Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River near Spencer has been completely destroyed.
Two flood-related fatalities were reported in the Columbus area and a third in Norfolk. One person was still missing following the collapse of the a dam near Norfolk.
At a news conference Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said the flooding is worse than in 2011, and that this is still the early stages. More than 2,000 people in Iowa have fled their homes since the flooding began last week.
Wisconsin and Missouri
Hundreds of homes have been flooded in Holt County, Missouri after the Missouri river breached several levees. Over 100 roads have been closed in the area. Several high water rescues have been carried out, including one by helicopter.
In Wisconsin, dozens of residents evacuated their homes in Green Bay. Dozens of roads are closed throughout Wisconsin due to flooding.
NWS Omaha said that the main rivers affected are the Missouri, Platte, Elkhorn, North Fork of the Elkhorn, Big Blue and the lower part of the Nishnabotna.
As of 19 March there were 77 river gauges above flood stage in the Missouri River Basin region, with 12 of them above major flood stage.
NWS Omaha said that major flooding on the Missouri River from Plattsmouth downstream to Rulo was expected in the coming days.
Among the record breaking levels are the Elkhorn River at Waterloo, which reached 24.63 feet on 16 March, beating the previous high of 19.12 feet of March 1962.
The Missouri River at Plattsmouth reached 40.62 feet 16 March, above the previous record of 36.7 feet set in June 2011. The Missouri River at Brownville meanwhile reached 45.73 feet on 16 March, beating the June 2011 record high of 44.79 feet.