ST. LOUIS — Residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes Sunday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees, putting them in a situation similar to that of hundreds of people in neighboring Nebraska who have been displaced by the late-winter flood.
Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have led to dangerously high water in creeks and rivers across several Midwestern states, with the Missouri River hitting record-high levels in many areas. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and two other men have been missing for days.
Although river depths were starting to level off in parts of Nebraska on Sunday, the water is so high in many places that serious flooding is expected to remain for several days. And downstream communities in Kansas and Missouri were bracing for likely flooding.
In Iowa, the Missouri River reached 30.2 feet on Sunday in Fremont County in the state’s far southwestern corner, two feet above the record set in 2011. The towns of Bartlett and Thurman were being evacuated as levees were breached and overtopped.
Thurman has about 200 residents. About 50 people live in Bartlett.
Hundreds remained out of their homes in Nebraska, where floodwaters reached record levels at 17 locations. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency highlighted some remarkably high crests. The Missouri River was expected to reach 41 feet in Plattsmouth on Sunday — four feet above the record set in 2011. The Elkhorn River got to 24.6 feet Saturday in Waterloo, breaking the 1962 record by 5½ feet.
Nearly 300 people have been rescued from high water across the state.
At least two people have died in the floodwaters. Aleido Rojas Galan, 52, of Norfolk, Neb., was swept away Friday night in southwestern Iowa, when the vehicle he was in went around a barricade. Two others in the vehicle survived — one by clinging to a tree. On Thursday, James Wilke, 50, a farmer in Columbus, Neb., died when a bridge collapsed as he used a tractor to try to reach stranded motorists.
Two men remain missing. A Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away. Water also swept away a man after a dam collapsed.
Downstream in St. Joseph, Mo., home to 76,000 people, volunteers were filling sandbags to help secure a levee protecting an industrial area. Calls were out for even more volunteers in hopes of filling 150,000 sandbags by Tuesday, when the Missouri River is expected to climb to 27 feet — 10 feet above technical flood stage.