Across the Midwest, the “historic” flooding that has killed at least two people and prompted leaders to declare states of emergency continued through the weekend, forcing more residents to flee their homes.

The surging water, fueled by a powerful winter storm, overwhelmed infrastructure, threatened a nuclear power plant and cut off access to some towns and cities. In Nebraska, which has seen some of the most significant damage, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the effects of the “devastating flooding … could last for quite some time.”

On Sunday, state officials confirmed two flood-related deaths and said another two men have been missing for days.

News of the fatalities came as residents in neighboring Iowa were driven from their homes as the Missouri River breached and broke levees. In the southwest corner of the state, the river rose to just over 30 feet, well beyond the previous record, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s flowing fast, and it’s open country – there’s nothing there to slow it down,” Mike Crecelius, director of emergency management in Fremont County, Iowa, told the AP.

James Wilke, a 50-year-old Columbus, Nebraska, farmer, was killed Thursday when a bridge collapsed as he used a tractor to try to reach stranded drivers, the AP reported. The next day, Aleido Rojas Galan, a 52-year-old resident of Norfolk, Nebraska, was swept away in floodwaters in southwestern Iowa.

The National Weather Service warned that parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota – as well as Nebraska and Iowa – could still face flooding this week.

A “bomb cyclone” – a hurricane-like winter storm – battered the region with strong winds and heavy rainfall. The flooding was particularly intense because the heavy rain fell on snow that had not melted yet, said Brian Barjenbruch, the science and operations officer for the weather service in Omaha.


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