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Heavy rains swamp Midwest

Storms dumped over eight inches of rain in some areas of the Midwest.

BY HEATHER MOYER | AUSTIN, Texas | September 15, 2004

Storms dumped over eight inches of rain in some areas of the Midwest Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

In southern Minnesota's Mower County, flooding is widespread. The cities of Austin and Adams are still mostly underwater, according to Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, making damage assessments difficult at this time. "The water is still rising a little, but we know there are numerous homes damaged so far," she said.

Amazi said the area has received in excess of eight inches of rain in the past 24 hours, and while it's stopped right now, more is forecast in the next few days. She said emergency crews have been rescuing many families from their homes as the water rises.

Southwest of Austin, residents in the small Iowa town of Armstrong are also sandbagging to fend off the rising Des Moines River. City Maintenance Worker Bill Mitchell said the storm sewers cannot handle any more water. "We've been pumping out the sewers and people's basements," he said. "We've been up since 4 a.m. doing this."

Emmet County Emergency Manager Terry Reekers said the area received some 14 inches of rain in a very short period of time. So far, they know that at least 25 homes have water in the first level, and he expects that number to increase as they continue damage assessments.

Reekers added that many in the community don't have flood insurance even though they'd been encouraged to get it. "Yet sometimes people think if they don't live right next to a river, then they don't need it."

Other Emmet County communities affected include Wallingford, Gruver, and Ringsted -- all of which are very small rural towns. Reekers said he hopes to team up with the nearby damaged counties of Clay, Palo Alto, and Dickinson to seek a state declaration of emergency.

The floodwater has not yet receded in most of the affected areas. "We haven't seen flooding like this since the '93 flood, so it's pretty bad," said Mitchell. Although now, emergency officials are saying the amount of water and damage is looking worse than that flood.

More rain is expected Wednesday night, but Reekers said he hopes this is one time the forecasters are wrong.

Wisconsin and Kansas were also drenched by the major storm system as it moved through Tuesday night.

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