More Storms Hit Flooded Midwest

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By JOHN SEEWER
The Associated Press
Friday, August 24, 2007; 12:50 AM

FINDLAY, Ohio -- Peeking into her waterlogged basement, Gail Leatherman didn't break down until she saw a soggy photo of her and her husband, taken for their 17th wedding anniversary. She salvaged the picture, but not her treasured Christmas decorations. Next door, her son lost all of his 1-year-old boy's winter clothes. And that wasn't the worst of it.

"A year ago, our insurer told us we could drop our flood insurance," she said. "So we did."

Water from the worst flood in nearly a century in this northwest Ohio city began receding Thursday, as it did elsewhere in the Midwest, allowing some of the more than 1,000 homeowners who had been displaced to get a look at the soaked photo albums, boxes of clothes and furniture in their basements.

With the flooding and more storms moving through, the death toll across the Upper Midwest and from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin that swept Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri over the past week also rose to at least 26. In one Ohio county alone, the tally of damaged homes was more than 700.

The weather wasn't through with the region, however, as funnel clouds were spotted in the suburbs west of Chicago and storms lashed Iowa and Minnesota.

At least one tornado was reported about 50 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, Mich., as thunderstorms pelted the state for a second day. No injuries were reported.

At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, about 500 flights were canceled Thursday evening and others delayed for more than 2 1/2 hours, said Chicago Aviation Commissioner Nuria Fernandez. Delays at Midway Airport averaged 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Storms rattled and soaked northern and west-central Illinois, splitting trees and damaging buildings and adding to the rising water in several rivers, which crews rushed to sandbag. A roof collapsed at the dock area of an industrial building in the suburbs, injuring 40 people but none seriously, police said.

About 310,000 customers in northern Illinois were without power Thursday night, including 62,000 in Chicago, said ComEd spokesman Tom Stevens. It could take days to restore power for some customers north of the city, he said.

In southwestern Wisconsin, the National Guard pumped water to relieve pressure on at least one dam, said Mike Goetzman, a spokesman for Wisconsin Emergency Management. The earthen dam suffered erosion earlier this week when water from weekend thunderstorms overflowed it.

Firefighters in Wheatland, Wis., had a hard time putting out a house fire because the building was surrounded by flood water, authorities said. They had to take small boats out with pumps and draft from the surrounding water. No one was injured and the cause had yet to be determined.

In Oklahoma City, divers pulled the body of a 17-year-old runner from a swollen lake a day after he was caught in a current while trying to cross a flooded trail.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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