A million people are under flood warnings as heavy rains lash the upper Midwest

image caption, About 4,000 residents of Iowa’s Rock Valley were forced to evacuate due to flooding.

  • author, Nadine Yusif
  • stock, BBC News

More than a million people are under flood warnings after heavy rains lashed the US Midwest on Sunday, prompting evacuations and rescue efforts in several states.

Iowa and South Dakota were hardest hit, where some rivers reached record levels.

At least one person has died in flooding in South Dakota, state Gov. Christy Nome said.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called the flooding “catastrophic” and declared a state of disaster in 21 counties.

Drone footage released by regional authorities showed houses and buildings completely submerged, with only roofs visible.

In Spencer, northeast Iowa, a water level gauge was completely submerged.

“When the flood gauge is under water, it’s pretty high,” Eric Dykes of Clay County Emergency Management said at a news conference Sunday.

Officials said hundreds of homes were damaged in the city, and the city’s sewage plant was also flooded.

Other states with areas under weekend flood warnings include Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or ongoing.

Some warnings are expected to end late Sunday, according to bulletins from the National Weather Service (NWS), but others will remain in effect until further notice.

In Iowa, river levels have risen above the level of the 1993 flood that killed 50 people, officials said.

Up to 18in (45cm) of rain fell in some areas this weekend.

About 4,000 residents of Iowa’s Rock Valley – about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Sioux Falls – were forced to evacuate after the Rock River rose to record levels on Saturday.

Rock Valley city officials said residents in the area are without clean running water because flood waters have contaminated wells.

Flooding in the city early Saturday left some people and animals stranded, prompting helicopter rescue operations.

About 250 water rescues have been carried out so far, Governor Reynolds of Iowa said.

“I can tell you, the devastation is severe and it is widespread,” he told reporters on Sunday.

In Wisconsin, severe weather also destroyed a historic church in the village of Argyle, according to a local parish. Apple Grove Lutheran Church, founded in 1893, was completely flattened by Saturday evening’s tornado.

The severe storms come as parts of the United States continue to deal with a week-long heat wave that has seen some cities exceed daily temperature records.

As of Sunday, more than 100 million people were under a heat advisory. Several warnings are expected to be extended early next week.

With hot summer temperatures forecast to reach nearly 100 F (37 C) in some regions, the heat wave is affecting cities and towns from the mid-Atlantic to the lower Mississippi Valley, the Great Basin and into California.

In Oklahoma, temperatures were expected to reach 107 F (41 C) on Sunday.

The Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Washington DC and New York City, is also likely to record high temperatures, the NWS said.

Baltimore reached 101 F (38 C) — the highest temperature recorded that day since 1988, according to the NWS.

The heat wave was unusually early for this time of year, and the NWS warned that it could be the longest experienced in decades in some locations.

Scientists say extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of human-induced climate change, driven by activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

Global heat waves have become more frequent and intense since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate body.

Latest articles

Related articles