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Two Dead, Hundreds Evacuated as ‘Historic’ Flooding Swamps Midwest

Climate
Flooding at the Platte River south of Fremont, Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts

Flooding caused by last week's bomb cyclone storm has broken records in 17 places across the state of Nebraska, CNN reported Sunday. Around nine million people in 14 states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were under a flood watch, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said.


Communities in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa were the most severely impacted, AccuWeather reported. Two Nebraskan residents have died, two are missing and hundreds have been forced to evacuate.

"Nebraska has experienced historic flooding and extreme weather in nearly every region of the state," Nebraska Republican Governor Pete Ricketts tweeted Friday.


The flooding is the result of a bomb cyclone that brought hurricane-force winds, blizzards and heavy rain to the central U.S. last week. This caused rivers to overflow, especially as the ground was frozen, causing all of the excess water and snowmelt to flow into waterways, Brian Barjenbruch of Omaha's National Weather Service told The Washington Post.

"It is some of the worst flooding that we've seen in many years," Barjenbruch said. "In some locations it's the worst flooding on record on many of these river gauges."

The governors of Nebraska, Wisconsin and South Dakota have all declared emergencies, while Iowa's governor has issued several disaster proclamations.

The bomb cyclone that caused the flooding was due to warm, wet air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with cold Northern air, and Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann told the Huffington Post that climate change is making the conditions that cause these storms more likely.

"Despite the antics of climate change-denying politicians ... the increased snowfall amounts associated with record-strength Nor'easters (and 'bomb cyclones') is symptomatic of, rather than evidence against, human-caused planetary warming," he wrote in an email.

One of those killed was a Nebraska farmer named James Wilke, who died trying to rescue stranded drivers in his tractor when a bridge collapsed, The Washington Post reported.

Nebraskan Aleido Rojas Galan died Friday in floodwaters in Iowa. More than 650 people in Nebraska have had to flee to shelters.

Most of the records broken by flooding were along the Missouri river, where waters crested one to four feet above previous records in different locations throughout Nebraska, CNN reported.

More rain is expected in the area Tuesday, AccuWeather reported, which could make the situation worse.

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