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Severe weather wreaks havoc across the US - from Midwest flooding to deadly Northeast storms

David Hruska, whose parents bought the Rapidan Dam Store and adjacent house in 1972, is photographed Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Rapidan, Minn. He says he hopes to salvage what he can before the flooding river that eroded the bank under his home also claims his family’s business. (AP Photo/Mark Vancleave)
Original Publication Date June 26, 2024 - 10:11 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Severe weather over days has caused havoc and destruction across the U.S. That includes torrential rains and flooding in the Upper Midwest and powerful storms in the Northeast that left a least two people dead from falling trees.

The deadly storms that raked parts of the Northeast late Wednesday into early Thursday spun off tornadoes and initially left some 250,000 customers in the region without power.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado moved through parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Wednesday evening, and in western Pennsylvania, the storms are believed to have spun off at least three tornadoes. High winds of up to 70 mph (113 kph) brought down power lines and trees and damaged some homes and other structures in the area. No injuries were reported.

The storms came on the heels of widespread flooding in parts of the Midwest after days of torrential rains soaked the area. A 52-year-old man drowned in his Iowa basement after the foundation collapsed and debris pinned him down, the Des Moines Register reported Thursday. Flooding is attributed to at least two other deaths — one in Iowa and one in South Dakota — caused by driving near flooded areas.

Much of the country has also been hit with a scorching heat wave as scientists have sounded the alarm that climate change is likely to bring more weather extremes.

Here is where weather events stand in the U.S. and what's expected in the coming days:

Minnesota dam failure

Heavy rains over days engorged the Blue Earth River, sending water surging around the Rapidan Dam in southern Minnesota. Rushing water washed away large chunks of the riverbank and carried a shipping container with it as it toppled utility poles and wrecked a substation.

A home that had stood near the banks of the river for decades saw the ground gradually erode from underneath it until it collapsed into the river Tuesday.

While his house is gone, David Hruska plans to keep the nearby family store, called The Rapidan Dam Store, going — if it doesn't fall into the raging river, too. The swelling water had eroded the land away to only about about 10 feet (3 meters) away from the building,

Local law enforcement has been helping salvage items from the store “in case it disappears," Hruska told The Associated Press. If it remains on solid ground, the family hopes to move the entire structure.

“It can be done, we’ve looked into that,” he said. “But it’s just too saturated now. We got to wait for things to dry out a little more, so they can get their heavy equipment in there to get it out of there.”

Iowa

In northwest Iowa, neighborhoods in Sioux City and smaller towns have been ravaged by floodwaters. Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the damage alongside federal officials Thursday.

Some communities are still dealing with failing water and sewer systems as residents work to clean up debris. In Rock Valley, officials were tagging homes with color-coded signs to indicate whether they were safe to enter.

Communities along the west fork of the Des Moines River were bracing for the impacts of the swollen river, although officials were encouraged that the threat appeared to be easing.

The river crested Thursday morning at Humboldt, Iowa, at about 17 feet (5 meters) and was expected to soon recede, said Humboldt County Emergency Management coordinator Kyle Bissell.

South Dakota

The southeastern corner of South Dakota was hit hard this week with torrential floods that devastated the lake community of McCook in North Sioux City, collapsing streets, felling utility poles and trees, and washing several homes off their foundations.

Along the Big Sioux River in the town, the flooding broke apart a more than 100-year-old railroad bridge.

Near the small town of Canton, Bob Schultz saw flooding destroy most of his soybean and corn crops.

“They were absolutely beautiful, had a good stand and no weeds,” he said Thursday. “Then the rain started, and we live by the river, and there’s nothing we can do about it."

Nebraska

In northeastern Nebraska, South Sioux City and other nearby towns along the swollen Missouri river saw flooded low-lying riverfront roads, homes and cropland.

Downstream, flood warnings were in effect for communities along the river through much of next week, but the flooding has been less severe there than expected.

What's next

Those further south along flooded tributaries have been scrambling to get ahead of any flooding as the glut of water makes its way downstream.

Justin Spring and dozens of volunteers have spent days hauling his entire inventory of heavy auto parts and machinery to higher ground from his auto recycling business located along the Missouri River in Plattsmouth, a low-lying Nebraska city of about 6,500.

“It was all friends and other businesses who helped move it all out,” he said. “It was just a lot of community support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”

The river is expected to crest at 32.3 feet (9.8 meters) Saturday. That is high enough to flood riverfront roads and flood Plattsmouth's water wells. If it holds to below 33 feet (10 meters), Spring's machine shops should be spared, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha said Thursday that it has limited releases from Gavins Point Dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border in an effort to ease flooding along the lower Missouri. That has been helped by slowing flows of rivers into the dam, the Corps said.

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This story was first published on Jun. 27, 2024. It was updated on Jun. 28, 2024 to correct the identity of the person who spoke to the AP about the Rapidan Dam Store. The AP spoke to David Hruska, not his father, Jim Hruska.

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The story was updated to correct that the Des Moines River crested in Humboldt County early Thursday, not late Wednesday.

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Fingerhut reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press journalists Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, New Jersey, Karen Matthews in New York, John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas, and Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vermont, contributed to this report.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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