News Crews used boats to help residents amid Midwest flooding • Emergency crews help evacuate residents, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Elkhart, Ind. Crews are using boats to help northern Indiana residents amid flooding from melting snow and heavy rain moving across the Midwest. (Becky Malewitz /South Bend Tribune via AP)Emergency crews help evacuate residents, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Elkhart, Ind. Crews are using boats to help northern Indiana residents amid flooding from melting snow and heavy rain moving across the Midwest. (Becky Malewitz /South Bend Tribune via AP)ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Crews used boats to help residents evacuate their homes in northern Indiana after rainstorms sweeping across the Midwest on Wednesday combined with melting snow to flood rivers, roads and other low-lying areas in several states.The storm system started pushing heavy rain, snow and ice into the region this week. The weather has already been blamed for hundreds of car crashes and several fatalities, including a crash that killed four people along a slippery interstate in Nebraska.About 19 people had been evacuated from homes in Elkhart, where emergency crews used boats and an armored vehicle to respond, Mayor Tim Neese said early Wednesday. Schools were closed in the northern Indiana city because of the flooding, and an emergency shelter was set up, The Elkhart Truth newspaper reported.”This city has not seen flooding like this in the last 45 years,” Neese said. „We also had record snowfall in addition to consistent rain.”In Elkhart and nearby Goshen, local officials declared a state of emergency and asked that traffic be limited to first responders and emergency personnel. Homes and streets also were flooded in the South Bend area, and forecasters predicted that the swollen St. Joseph River wouldn’t crest until Thursday.Evacuations grew elsewhere across the Midwest after heavy rains and snowmelt sent rivers and streams out of their banks.Authorities in Lansing, Michigan, recommended the evacuations of at least six neighborhoods. Late Wednesday, Mayor Andy Schor declared a state of emergency for the city in anticipation that flooding will hit residential areas.The National Weather Service predicts the Grand River in Lansing will crest at 14.6 feet, nearly three feet above flood stage by late Thursday. The Red Cedar River is forecast to crest at 10.3 feet.City officials recommended anyone living in the possible flood areas to temporarily leave their home by noon Thursday.Firefighters in Lake Station, Indiana, about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, evacuated some residents Wednesday after about 2 to 3 feet of water surrounded 15 to 20 homes.In Illinois, authorities issued an evacuation order Wednesday for residents in the city of Marseilles who live near the Illinois River. The fear of rising water along the river forced the evacuation late Tuesday of the LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa. Two days of rain in southern Wisconsin swelled waterways, leading to a handful of high-water rescues for people stranded in their vehicles.The National Weather Service said up to 8 inches of rain have fallen in parts of northern Indiana since Monday.The weather service has issued flood warnings for parts of several other states in the central and southern U.S., spanning from Texas to Illinois and Ohio to Arkansas. Winter weather advisories also were issued, including in Oklahoma and Kansas.More than a dozen students were rescued after their school bus drove off the road and got stuck in floodwaters in Arkansas, where strong winds toppled power lines and damaged buildings. A school bus was pushed off a county road near Lafayette, Indiana, by the wake of a passing vehicle. No students were injured in either accident.In Michigan, flooded streets stranded motorists and a school bus in Flint, and a washout from heavy rains may have caused two freight train engines to derail near Grand Rapids. Police said two railroad workers suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening. Residents in Mattawan, in southwestern Michigan, used sandbags to protect homes and businesses as a river rose above its banks.”We just got to wait for it to go down,” Terry Teeter, who installed pumps to keep water away from his house, told WOOD-TV. „It’s going to be a couple of days like this.”State police said a 1-year-old girl was found dead Wednesday in standing water from rains and snowmelt in her backyard in central Michigan’s Fairplain Township.A 52-year-old woman from Bourbonnais, Illinois, was found dead Tuesday in a submerged car in Peotone, south of Chicago. The woman apparently lost control of her vehicle and ended up in a rain-filled ditch, said Peotone Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Bruce Boyle.In eastern Nebraska, speed and slippery pavement caused a crash between a pickup truck and a semitrailer along Interstate 80 on Tuesday that killed four people from Colorado, police said. The Kansas Highway Patrol said a 38-year-old woman died and two other people were injured in a collision on an icy highway late Monday.In Minnesota, state police said winter weather contributed to 400 crashes and 250 spinouts, including two fatal accidents.The storm system stretched to Texas, where weather service officials said three tornadoes hit. One struck early Tuesday in a rural area near Joshua, destroying at least two mobile homes and severely damaging several others. A mother and her disabled daughter were injured when one twister demolished their mobile home.
The combination of melting snow, frozen ground and drenching rainfall into Monday has pushed the secondary waterways in Illinois, Indiana, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and northwestern Ohio well out of their banks.Static Major River Flooding V2Communities along the Illinois, Kankakee, Grand, St. Joseph, Iroquois, Des Plaines, Elkhart, Yellow, Tiffin, Tippecanoe and others can expect major flooding in the coming days, even though the heaviest rain will fall farther south and east.Much of that periodic heavy rain will fall on the Ohio, Tennessee and lower Mississippi basins.On Wednesday, a state of emergency was declared in Elkhart, Indiana as the St. Joseph River that flows through the town rose into major flood stage. Classes were canceled at Elkhart Central High School due to rising flood waters, with more school cancellations possible later this week as flooding continues.elkhart floodingFlooding in Elkhart, Indiana on Wednesday afternoon near Elkhart Central High School. (Photo/@ryujas1)Minor to moderate flooding is expected to continue along the Ohio and middle to lower Mississippi rivers over the next couple of weeks as it takes much longer for the flooding cycle to occur on the large rivers.By Sunday, areas from northeastern Texas to southern Indiana will have received between 4 and 8 inches of rain this week with locally higher amounts. This area will be at greatest risk for new flooding of widespread nature in urban areas, small streams and secondary rivers.Surrounding this zone of the most persistent downpours will be lesser rainfall on the order of 2-4 inches into SundayAreas in southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, middle Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, central Pennsylvania and central Ohio can expect incidents of isolated flooding which will be most prominent during each bout of drenching rainfall into Sunday.From Sunday to the middle of next week, the region experiencing or at risk for flooding is expected to catch a break from the relentless rainfall.Dry and cooler air is projected to sweep in and turn off the Gulf of Mexico faucet.This several-day break should be enough to allow small streams and secondary rivers to return within their banks. However, it may take a few weeks until much of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers fall below flood stage.Water levels on the lower Mississippi and over much of the Mississippi Delta are likely to rise well into March.While floods along the rivers over the Central states are more common from March to June, some of the highest water levels have occurred during the winter.Indications are that more rain is likely to develop over Texas and spread northeastward over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys later next week. Some of this rain has the potential to be heavy enough to aggravate flooding in some communities.Farther north, moisture from that storm may fall as snow around the Great Lakes and the Upper Midwest.Much of the landscape and headwaters of the Mississippi and Missouri will remain frozen to prevent significant melting over the next couple of weeks.Meanwhile, ongoing drought conditions are playing a role in keeping water levels lower in rivers originating from the eastern slopes of the Rockies and High Plains, such as the Red, Arkansas and Platte.