At least 2 dead as devastating Midwest floods trigger evacuations

Flooding in the Midwest caused severe damage, leading to the collapse of a bridge, the weakening of a dam and the evacuation of a town.

Nearly 3 million people in Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska were affected.

In the Iowa-South Dakota border area, damage from record flooding was “severe and widespread,” according to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. At least one person in Iowa and one person in South Dakota have died.

“Flooding will continue” in parts of Iowa and South Dakota, “but the risk of additional precipitation in the next 2 to 3 days is low,” the National Weather Service said in an update Monday after- noon.


In Clay County, Iowa, the sheriff’s office confirmed that one person drowned over the weekend as a result of flooding.

Spencer — a city of more than 11,000 and the seat of Clay County — was cut off from the rest of the state by floodwaters. Hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters and 383 rescues were made, Spencer Fire Chief Jesse Coulson said.

Nate Gastelum, 20, said he was at home with his roommate in Spencer when they realized they had to flee.

“We started on the street and then ended up at the back of the house because we had to keep backing up,” Gastelum said. “There was just a weird feeling, and me and my roommate were like, ‘Yeah, we have to go.’”

Gastelum said his basement was flooded and his home would not be habitable for some time.

“But that’s nothing compared to what happened to other people around us,” he said. “In the south of the city, these houses are almost completely destroyed. »

Gastelum described collapsed homes across the city, cars submerged or floating in the streets and massive power outages. People trapped in their homes had to jump from upper floors onto boats to escape, Gastelum said.

Still, he said, the city stepped up to help those most affected.

“The best thing about this city is that everyone who hasn’t been badly affected is opening their doors to as many people as possible,” he said. “Like my mother, she took in 11 people and a few dogs because their house had been completely destroyed. »

“I had my truck and I was helping families get to safe areas in the bed of my truck,” Gastelum said.

Reynolds visited several areas of northwest Iowa on Monday. She issued a disaster proclamation for one county and an emergency proclamation for five others.

“In almost all affected communities, river levels have reached several meters above the record levels of the 1993 flood,” Reynolds said Sunday at a news conference.

The Sioux City Fire Marshal called the flooding “unprecedented,” saying it’s difficult to predict what happens next given the region’s lack of experience dealing with devastation of this magnitude.

“No one has experienced this level of precipitation and this much water at once,” said Fire Commissioner Mark Aesoph, noting that the evacuation zone will continue to expand as the water continues to rise in a temporary dike built to control flooding.

A flood warning remains in effect for parts of northwest Iowa until 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

View Monday of a railroad bridge that connected North Sioux City, SD, to Sioux City, Iowa, that collapsed into the Big Sioux River due to heavy rain and flooding Sunday.KTIV

South Dakota

A railroad bridge connecting Sioux City, Iowa, to North Sioux City, South Dakota, collapsed Sunday evening and fell into the Big Sioux River.

A person has died in South Dakota after driving a utility vehicle down an embankment created by a washed-out road, according to the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Gov. Kristi Noem urged people to consider the safety of themselves and their families as “of the utmost importance,” reminding them to stay out of floodwaters.

“Throughout this entire incident, we had a loss of life,” Noem said. “And so the prospect of the danger that this poses becomes very real for this family.”

Noem warned that the coming days would be “difficult” and that the impact of the flooding’s destruction on the state would be felt for months.

“In case we needed a reminder of the destructive nature of water,” Noem said Monday at a news conference, “we are seeing it in real time today.”

Southeast South Dakota remains under a flood warning until 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.


In south-central Minnesota, a dam near Rapidan is at risk of “imminent failure” due to structural damage from flooding. However, it remains functional for the moment and local authorities say there are no plans for a “mass evacuation” as they continue to monitor the situation.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday for areas downstream of Rapidan Dam along the Blue Earth River. The service asked residents in low-lying areas downstream of the dam to immediately move to higher ground.

The rest of southern Minnesota also remains under a flood warning through Tuesday, with a flood watch in effect in parts of the southwest.

CORRECTION (June 24, 2024, 10:28 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the name of a resident of Spencer, Iowa. This is Nate Gastelum, not Gatelum.

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