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Floodwaters still plague Midwest

Published August 25, 2007


PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rain pushed floodwaters higher in northern Illinois on Friday, threatening further havoc in a region where days of torrential thunderstorms have swamped thousands of homes and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.

In this Chicago suburb, about 300 people piled sandbags against 4-foot-high concrete barriers, aided by backhoes and bulldozers, but they didn't know whether it would be enough to hold back the Des Plaines River.

"It's just getting worse," Fire Chief Don Gould said.

A storm carrying heavy rain and high winds Thursday knocked down thousands of trees and tree limbs around metropolitan Chicago and left more than half a million utility customers without power. About 173,000 remained without electricity Friday night, said ComEd spokeswoman Anne Prammaggiore.

Parts of Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, meanwhile, continued cleaning up. Nearly a week of powerful storms, heavy rain and devastating flooding across the Upper Midwest has damaged thousands of homes and been blamed for at least 17 deaths.

State by state

INDIANA: In Dyer, 30 miles south of Chicago, authorities began evacuating St. Margaret Mercy Hospital as water from a creek began seeping in. About 70 patients were being moved to other hospitals, spokeswoman Maria Ramos said. Police and firefighters went door to door in Dyer telling people to leave.

ILLINOIS: Rising water on the Fox and Des Plaines rivers prompted authorities to increase the flood alert level for northern Lake County to red, the highest level. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared Cook, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties state disaster areas, a move that will help deliver aid to those areas.

MICHIGAN: In lower Michigan, a line of heavy storms swept through for the second day in a row, with reports of tornadoes damaging homes.

MINNESOTA: Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David Paulison surveyed damage Friday in Rushford, Minn., especially hard-hit this week. Mayor Les Ladewig said about half of Rushford's 760 homes were damaged, including 248 that were destroyed and 91 with serious damage. About 1,500 homes were damaged in the state, and Paulison said FEMA recovery centers should be running early next week in the three counties where President Bush declared disasters Thursday.

WISCONSIN: Paulison also visited Wisconsin, where flooding destroyed 44 homes and damaged more than 1,400. FEMA agreed to begin evaluating damage today, three days earlier than planned, after an appeal from Gov. Jim Doyle.

MISSOURI: The Weather Service issued flood warnings for several communities along the Mississippi River, expecting levels 4 to 5 feet above flood stage. That's not enough to endanger levees but could threaten homes.

IOWA: In Ottumwa, heavy rain backed up the sewer system, threatening the water supply to the city of about 25,000.

[Last modified August 24, 2007, 23:22:49]

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