Midwest: Deadly flooding collapses bridge, forces evacuations

A railroad bridge connecting North Sioux City, S.D., with Sioux City, Iowa, is seen partially collapsed into the Big Sioux River on Monday due to flooding. MARGERY A. BECK — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By MARGERY A. BECK HANNAH FINGERHUT AND JOHN HANNA | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. >> Flooding in the Midwestern U.S. collapsed a railroad bridge and sent water surging around a dam Monday after days of heavy rains that have forced hundreds of people to evacuate or be rescued from rising waters.

The flooding brought additional misery to parts of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota during a vast and stubborn heat wave. In some communities hit by flooding, the

temperature Monday afternoon approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

More than 3 million people live in areas touched by flooding, from Omaha, Nebraska, to St. Paul, Minnesota. Storms dumped huge amounts of rain from Thursday through Saturday, with as much as 18 inches falling south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service.

Places that didn’t get as much rain still had to contend with the extra water moving downstream. More rain is forecast, and many streams may not crest until later this week as the floodwaters slowly drain down a web of rivers to the Missouri and Mississippi. The Missouri will crest at Omaha on Thursday, said Kevin Low, a weather service hydrologist.

“I’ve never had to evacuate my house,” Hank Howley, a 71-year-old North Sioux City, South Dakota, resident said as she joined others on a levee of the swollen Big Sioux River, where the railroad bridge collapsed a day earlier. “We’re on the highest spot in town. But what good is that when the rest of the town is flooded? It makes me nervous.”

The bridge connected North Sioux City, South Dakota, with Sioux City, Iowa, and fell into the Big Sioux River about 11 p.m. Sunday, officials said. Images on local media showed a large span of the steel bridge partially underwater as floodwaters rushed over it.

The Big Sioux River stabilized Monday morning at around 45 feet, over 7 feet higher than the previous record, Sioux City Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph said.

In North Sioux City, the South Dakota Department of Transportation built a berm Sunday night across Interstate 29 to stem flooding, temporarily blocking the major route. In other areas where the interstate remained open, water crept toward the road.

At least one person died in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem has said without providing details.

The flooding has, over the course of days, damaged roads and bridges, shuttered or destroyed businesses, required hospitals and nursing homes to evacuate, and left cities without power or safe drinking water, the governors of Iowa and South Dakota said.

Over the weekend, teams from Iowa’s natural resources department pulled families with children and a person using a wheelchair from flooded homes, director Kayla Lyon told reporters. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the department conducted 250 water rescues Saturday.

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