Floods slam Midwest, officials assess damage


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The worst of the flooding across the Midwest appeared to be subsiding on Thursday, but state officials from the Dakotas to Indiana remained on high alert and began assessing the damage already caused.


"We're thinking the worst has passed," said Mike Wight, spokesman for the state department of health and human services. "The weather outlook we last saw is really very favorable and we're glad to see that because it has just been wave after wave of rain."

More than 14 inches of rain have fallen so far in parts of Nebraska, the wettest June on record according to the High Plains Regional Climate Center. A railroad worker there died when floodwaters washed out a railroad bridge he was inspecting.

Heavy rains and melting mountain snow have triggered widespread flooding along numerous waterways in Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas. Indiana and Illinois have also been overwhelmed by rising water levels in recent days.

Even though rains have temporarily slowed, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the state's national guard to provide emergency assistance for flooding victims as the Missouri River continued to swell.

"We will be continuously and closely monitoring this situation and take every necessary action to protect lives and property," Nixon said in a statement. "With hundreds of homes, thousands of acres of farmland and business and transportation routes at stake, we aren't taking anything for granted."

The governor declared a state of emergency in Missouri earlier this week due to the severe flooding that has already swept through northwestern parts of the farm state.

In South Dakota, minimum-security prison inmates and a contingent of National Guard members were helping with sandbagging operations on Thursday to protect structures from flooding.

And residents of central Indiana were watching water levels after many were forced to flee their homes Tuesday to escape floodwaters.

In addition to concerns about property damage, according to officials, all the flooding and fears of more have sparked concerns about damage to newly planted corn, soybeans and other crops. Officials estimated thousands of acres of crops have been hurt.

Missouri's Gov. Nixon on Thursday asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency to conduct damage assessment reports for 114 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis to determine the extent of damage to farms because of flooding and strong winds.

The National Weather Service on Thursday showed flood warnings continuing through the region, though most of the central United States was getting at least a short break from severe weather as a high pressure system pushed a stalled front across the Ohio Valley into New England.

The national Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service tallied 155 locations at some level of flooding on streams throughout the country, with the vast majority concentrated in the Midwest and southern Great Lakes.

Devastating flooding in the Midwest was last seen two years ago when after months of heavy precipitation several rivers overflowed for weeks, breaking through levees and causing damages throughout the region.