Midwest flooding: Family who lost their home in river flooding vows to keep store open

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Minnesota family that watched helplessly as their house fell into a flooded river, destroying the bank where the home was located, says they will reopen their nearby store, known for pies and burgers, as soon as conditions are safe.

The Rapidan Dam store remained standing Thursday, but the home its owner grew up in collapsed two days ago into the swollen Blue Earth River near Mankato. Flooding in the area was improving, and the National Weather Service was now predicting that flooding downstream was unlikely to be catastrophic.

Debris is seen stuck on the Grand Avenue Bridge over the Little Sioux River, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Spencer, Iowa, as a pump pushes water back into the river. The bridge was closed to traffic as of Tuesday afternoon. (Tim Hinds/Sioux City Journal via AP)

A post on the store’s Facebook page Wednesday night said “we don’t know what will happen,” adding that it has been a tough experience. “The Dam Store hasn’t sold its last burger or last slice of pie.”

Hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed by flooding in the Upper Midwest are among the first property damage caused by the flooding. extreme weather The area may be flooded as floodwaters move south.

Meanwhile, bad weather also wreaked havoc in other parts of the country, including the Northeast, where two people died.

A man in Connecticut and a man in New Jersey were both killed by fallen trees. Strong storms lashed parts of the Northeast from late Wednesday night into Thursday morning, initially leaving about 250,000 people in the region without power.

Storms in western Pennsylvania spawned at least three tornadoes, according to the weather service. Suspected tornadoes touched down in parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, and crews were on scene Thursday to assess damage. The storms also brought heavy rain and winds up to 70 mph (113 kph) to the region, which downed power lines and trees and damaged some homes and other structures. No injuries were reported.

An area of ​​Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota is facing flooding and landslides due to torrential rains over the past week. A stifling heat wave. Some areas have received up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) of rain, raising some rivers to record levels. Hundreds of people have been rescued and at least two people have died after driving through flooded areas.

In Iowa, most towns were expected to be inundated by floodwaters, but at least some cities have gotten a reprieve. The west fork of the Des Moines River crested early Thursday at about 17 feet (5 meters), where it will stay for a while before receding. Humboldt County Emergency Manager Kyle Bissell heaved a sigh of relief at the news, saying that although the swollen river has engulfed several dozen homes, the threat of further damage has subsided.

“They had a lot of time to prepare, and they did a great job,” he said of Humboldt homes and businesses.

Bissell said about 50 to 75 homes suffered minor damage, with water entering basements of some homes, far fewer than the estimated 200 homes. Only a few vacant summer cabins appeared to have suffered major damage.

A levee on the Little Sioux River in Monona County, Iowa, was damaged by the flood, but county emergency coordinator Patrick Prorok said the flooding was being controlled by another part of the levee system. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, the levee was the only one under federal operation to fail in the area.

Flooding is expected to affect downstream areas in Nebraska and northwestern Missouri in the coming days. Many rivers and streams may not reach their peak until later this week. Weather service hydrologist Kevin Low said the Missouri River will reach its peak in Omaha on Thursday.

The most striking images are of rising floodwaters around the Minnesota dam.

Jessica Keech and her 11-year-old son watched part of their home near the dam fall into the river Tuesday night. They often visit the area to see the dam and enjoy pies from the dam store.

“It vanished into the water. It literally disappeared,” said Keech, of nearby New Ulm.

Blue Earth County officials said the river has cut the bank even wider and deeper, and they are concerned about the integrity of a nearby bridge over the river. After the flood subsides, the county will have to decide whether to repair the dam or possibly remove it – both options would cost millions of dollars.

President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to discuss the impacts to the Rapidan Dam, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reached out to Minnesota, White House officials said.

Preliminary information from the weather service shows that recent flooding caused river levels to reach record levels at more than a dozen locations in South Dakota and Iowa, an average of about 3.5 feet (1 meter) higher than previous crests.

This caused flooding that devastated neighborhoods in some river communities in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, including North Sioux City, South Dakota, where flooding washed out roads, knocked down power poles and trees, and swept several homes off their foundations.

Flooding closed several roads, including Interstate Highways 29 and 680 in Iowa near the Nebraska line.

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This story has been updated to correct that the Des Moines River in Humboldt County peaked early Thursday morning, not late Wednesday night.

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Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut. Associated Press journalists Margery A. Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, New Jersey, Karen Matthews in New York, Summer Ballantyne in Jefferson City, Missouri, John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas and Lisa Bauman in Bellingham, Washington contributed to this report.



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