Midwest copes with floods, East warned of heat


Monday, June 9th 2008, 11:04 am
By: News 9


By JIM IRWIN

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- Temperatures rose toward the triple digits on parts of the East Coast Monday as Midwesterners braced for more rain that could add to days of deadly floods.

Eight people died from flooding in Michigan and Indiana. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle sought emergency aid for 29 counties and President Bush late Sunday declared a major disaster in 29 Indiana counties. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said nearly a third of his state's 99 counties need federal help.

Flooding was expected to be a continuing problem this week as rivers are swollen with the runoff from as much as 11 inches of rain that fell Saturday in Indiana.

"This thing came on fast with such a radical deluge of water that people were describing going from a feeling of security to waist-deep water in a matter or 15 or 20 minutes," said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

A new storm system was headed toward the Ohio Valley from the southern Plains on Monday and the National Weather Service said as much as 3 inches of rain could fall in parts of the region late Monday.

While the Midwest fought to cope with flooding, the East baked. Heat advisories were posted Monday from the Carolinas to Connecticut, with temperatures expected to hit 100 from Georgia to New York, the National Weather Service said. In the Ohio Valley, a high of 93 was forecast in Cincinnati.

"It's just crazy. ... It's really, really hot," said New York City street worker Jessica Pena as she swept a midtown Manhattan street at around 8:15 a.m. The temperature already was in the upper 80s.

About 17,000 customers in and around New York City were blacked out by thunderstorms that struck late Sunday and the rising demand for electricity to run air conditions, utilities said Monday. A subway system power outage disrupted some morning rush hour service. The city's Office of Emergency Management said it would open cooling centers.

Intense thunderstorms battered Michigan on Sunday with winds of up to 80 mph and more than 5 inches of rain, knocking out electrical service to more than 515,000 homes and businesses.

Flood warnings were posted Monday for much of western Lower Michigan, the weather service said.

The Midwest storms triggered horrible memories for residents of western Wisconsin still recovering from flash flooding last August that carried entire houses onto highways, washed out roads and forced many to flee in the middle of the night.

Soldiers in Wisconsin were deployed Sunday evening to help evacuate 24 people in Ontario in rural Vernon County. Evacuations also occurred elsewhere across a 150-mile swath of the state from Milwaukee to the Mississippi River.

Officials warned that Wisconsin's Kickapoo River could crest 6 feet over flood stage sometime Monday.

Small towns in the flooded area of Wisconsin have become isolated islands. Roads leading into La Farge were all but blocked, Viola was unreachable and low-lying areas of Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills were underwater -- again, officials said.

"It ain't normal," said Monte Sheldon, 47. The weekend rain washed out part of his yard outside Viroqua, Wis., depositing his trees across a highway. He and his wife also had to flee flooding in August.

In southeastern Minnesota, officials urged residents of the Winnebago Valley to evacuate. More than 60 people were taken to a shelter in Caledonia from a campground.

Downstream, the Winnebago River rose to a record 18.7 feet late Sunday at Mason City, Ohio. The surge burst a levee, shutting down the city's water treatment plant, and Mason City's nearly 30,000 residents were told not to drink the water or flush toilets. Mason City got more than 5 inches of rain Sunday, a record for the date.

Indiana officials urged about 1,500 people to leave the towns of Elnora and Plainville, about 100 miles southwest of Indianapolis, because of flooding along the White River. In Morgan County, southwest of Indianapolis, about 150 residents were taken out of a flooded nursing home, and officials moved more than 250 patients and employees from Columbus Regional Hospital in southern Indiana.

The weekend death toll included six in Michigan, two of them newspaper deliverers for The Grand Rapids Press who drowned Sunday when a road collapsed beneath their car and plunged them into a flooded ravine. Indiana listed one dead and one man missing, and lightning killed one person in Connecticut.

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Associated Press writers Todd Richmond in Gays Mills, Wis., Tom Murphy in Indianapolis, and Ula Ilnytzky in New York City contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)