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Midwest Storm Dumps 8 Inches in Areas

June 5, 2002

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The Midwest got a heavy dose of flooding after a storm dumped more than 8 inches of rain on some areas, sending creeks and rivers out of their banks and leading to evacuations of dozens of homes.

Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois were hit the hardest from Tuesday’s storms as basements quickly filled up with water.

``It was very bad. It was something that happened so fast that for some people it was a life-threatening situation to have the water coming up around the houses like that,″ said Steve Braun, emergency management director in Wisconsin’s Grant County.

About 25 homes in southwestern Wisconsin were evacuated as water from a nearby creek flooded basements, dislodged natural gas tanks and left several inches of mud behind, officials said.

Some of the heaviest rainfall was reported in the town of Sterling in northwestern Illinois, which has received 8.58 inches since the storm struck on Monday.

Up to 8 inches of rain in 24 hours turned rivers into lakes in eastern Iowa, where Gov. Tom Vilsack declared seven counties disaster areas.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said 10 cities in northeast Iowa were forced to bypass their wastewater treatment plants to prevent sewage from flooding basements.

``We never like to see bypassing occur at our wastewater treatment plants, but we also have to recognize that weather conditions sometimes make it necessary,″ said Barb Lynch, acting Field Services and Compliance Bureau chief.

In Cedar Rapids, thick mud coated the basement and main level of Vicki Londquist’s home on Wednesday, and 3 feet of water remained in the back yard.

The day before, Londquist had to board a rescue boat to escape the quickly rising waters of Indian Creek.

``I just looked out the window and saw it come rushing down the street,″ she said.

Residents of a trailer park on the north edge of Dubuque were evacuated after the Little Maquoketa River crept out of its banks. Dubuque officials called off classes on the last day of school due to flooding.

About six homes in Cascade were evacuated early Wednesday after sandbags gave away along a dike on the North Fork of the Maquoketa River that runs through the northeast Iowa town. The damage was minimal and no one was injured, said Cascade Fire Chief Rick Kremer.

In Illinois, boats were called to rescue several people from a campground between a flooded creek and the Rock River near Lyndon, said Joellen Schroeder, the department’s communications supervisor.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, flight delays of up to two hours were reported Tuesday, said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the city Department of Aviation.

Iowa authorities rescued at least two drivers stranded by fast-rising floodwaters, and three firefighters had to be rescued when their boat capsized. Firefighters rescued a man from flood-swollen Spencer Creek when his van was swept from a rural roadway.

``He is very lucky,″ rescue worker Todd Akers said. ``That’s what he kept saying once we got to him: `I’m just glad to be alive.‴

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On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov

Intellicast: http://www.intellicast.com

University of Michigan site: http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet

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