DES MOINES, Iowa — Rising rivers wiped out an Iowa railroad bridge Tuesday, flooded Illinois farmland and forced residents along the Mississippi River to prepare for what could be the worst flooding in 15 years.
In Cedar Falls, Iowa, officials were readying residents and downtown business owners to evacuate as the Cedar River threatened to spill over a levee. The river was expected to top the levee early today, prompting a mandatory evacuation of downtown, Mayor Jon Crews said.
In nearby Waterloo, fast-moving water swept away a railroad bridge used to transport tractors from a John Deere factory to Cedar Rapids. It also prompted the city to shut its downtown and close five bridges.
Levee breaks Tuesday in southeastern Illinois flooded 50 to 75 square miles of farmland along the Embarras (EM'-brah) River, forcing the evacuations homes northeast of Lawrenceville, said Lawrence County Sheriff Russell Adams. He said water was up to the roofs of some rural homes.
Along the Mississippi River, the National Weather Service on Tuesday predicted crests of 10 feet above flood stage and higher over the next two weeks. Most of the towns are protected by levees, but outlying areas could be flooded.
Canton, Mo., 150 miles north of St. Louis, could get the worst of the Mississippi River's flooding. The town of 2,500 is expected to see a crest on June 18 that is nearly 12 feet above flood stage.
Wisconsin: Engineers and contractors began repairing damage done when 267-acre Lake Delton overflowed and drained, washing away three houses. Gov. Jim Doyle said he would seek a federal disaster declaration, and Wisconsin officials decided to close the westbound lanes of Interstate 94 near Johnson because of the rising Rock River.
Michigan: Utility companies said it would take several days to fully restore service to nearly 180,000 homes and businesses without power after several days of severe storms.
Minnesota: Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in an executive order, declared a state of emergency in two counties hit by flooding in the state's southeast corner.
The East Coast, meanwhile, saw a heat wave with temperatures in the upper 90s from Georgia to northern New England, where the weather service reported a Tuesday afternoon high of 99 at Portsmouth, N.H.