Crews used boats to help residents evacuate their homes in northern Indiana after rainstorms sweeping across the Midwest on Wednesday combined with melting snow to flood rivers, roads and other low-lying areas in several states.
The storm system starting pushed heavy rain, snow and ice into the region this week, and the weather has already been blamed for hundreds of car crashes and several fatalities, including the deaths of four people in a crash along a slippery interstate in Nebraska.
About 19 people had been evacuated from homes in Elkhart, a town just east of South Bend, by early Wednesday, said Mayor Tim Neese. Local schools were closed because of the flooding and an emergency shelter was set up to help evacuees overnight, The Elkhart Truth newspaper reported.
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“This city has not seen flooding like this in the last 45 years,” Neese said. “We also had record snowfall in addition to consistent rain.”
Homes and streets also were flooded in the South Bend area, and forecasters predicted that the swollen St. Joseph River wouldn’t crest until Thursday.
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for parts of several states in the central and southern U.S., spanning from Texas to Illinois and Ohio to Arkansas, where strong winds topped power lines and damages buildings. Winter weather advisories also were issued, including in for Oklahoma and Kansas.
In Michigan, flooded streets stranded motorists and a school bus in Flint, and a washout from heavy rains may have caused two freight train engines to derail near Grand Rapids. No injuries were reported there.
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Residents in Mattawan, in the southwestern part of the state, used sandbags to protect homes and businesses as a nearby river rose above its banks.
“We just got to wait for it to go down,” Terry Teeter, who installed pumps to keep water away from his house, told WOOD-TV. “It’s going to be a couple of days like this.”
In Illinois, the fear of rising water along the Illinois River forced the evacuation late Tuesday of the LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa. Two days of rain in southern Wisconsin swelled waterways, leading to a handful of high-water rescues for people stranded in their vehicles.
A 52-year-old woman from Bourbonnais, Illinois, was found dead Tuesday in a submerged car in Peotone, south of Chicago. The woman apparently lost control of her vehicle and ended up in a rain-filed ditch, said Peotone Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Bruce Boyle.
In eastern Nebraska, speed and slippery pavement caused a crash between a pickup truck and a semitrailer along Interstate 80 on Tuesday that killed four people from Colorado, police said. The Kansas Highway Patrol said a 38-year-old woman died and two other people were injured in a collision on an icy highway late Monday.
In Minnesota, state police said winter weather contributed to 400 crashes and 250 spinouts, including two fatal accidents.
The storm system stretched to Texas, where weather service officials said three tornadoes hit. One struck early Tuesday in a rural area near Joshua, destroying at least two mobile homes and severely damaging several others. A mother and her disabled daughter were injured when one twister demolished their mobile home.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.