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Midwest expecting up to 4 more inches of rain

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Towns submerged; crops drowned; rivers still rising; dams threatened

LAKE DELTON, Wis. - With rivers still rising, towns submerged and crops ruined after days of rain, the Midwest was told Wednesday to expect up to 4 more inches through Thursday. "A cold front approaching from the Plains later on Wednesday through Thursday will bring the greater threat for not only heavy rain, but severe weather," the National Weather Service stated. "Rainfall amounts from 1 to 4 inches look likely for the Wednesday through Thursday time frame.

"With the grounds well saturated, much of this would runoff into rivers and streams already high with recent rainfall, leading to more river flooding," the agency warned, citing Iowa, southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin as flood watch areas.

Tuesday saw new levee breaks that swamped Illinois farms and homes — part of a week of severe weather in the nation's heartland that's claimed 15 lives and put new pressure on crop prices.

Three levee breaks along the Embarras and Wabash rivers in Illinois werecausing widespread flash flooding of nearby areas — including Lawrenceville, a town of 5,000, and several smaller communities.

About 200 homes are in the immediately affected area, with water up to the roofs of some of them.

Between 50 to 75 square miles of farmland was flooded along the Embarras River, said Lawrence County Sheriff Russell Adams.

Watching dams in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, engineers kept watch over rain-deluged dams Tuesday after a major collapse nearly emptied Lake Delton in a torrent that washed away houses and a highway.

In Cedar Falls, Iowa, officials were readying residents and downtown business owners to evacuate as the Cedar River threatened to spill over a levee. The river was expected to top the levee early Wednesday, prompting a mandatory evacuation of downtown, Mayor Jon Crews said.

In nearby Waterloo, fast-moving water swept away a railroad bridge used to transport tractors from a John Deere factory to Cedar Rapids. It also prompted the city to shut its downtown and close five bridges.

The widespread flooding was caused by violent, drenching weekend thunderstorms that displaced thousands of residents in several states.

The downpours flooded corn fields and made it difficult for farmers to plant, pushing corn prices to record highs on commodities exchanges this week.


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