Rain eases in Midwest but flood threat remains
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Residents of parts of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana struggled on Saturday to recover from nearly a week of destructive thunderstorms while preparing for more floods from overburdened rivers and streams.
The worst of the storms, which have been blamed for 14 deaths throughout the Midwest, was believed to over but power outages still plagued the region.
Officials closely watched rivers on Saturday as they filled with run-off waters that could to the misery. Flood warnings and advisories were in effect through the weekend in much of northern Illinois, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, the National Weather Service said on its Web site.
In Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland visited residents in the state's sodden central region on Saturday and said some federal disaster assistance could be available to residents there by late next week.
"There are people who have lost their homes," he said in a telephone interview. "Some homes have been destroyed, more homes have been significantly damaged. It is across a 10-county area."
Strickland estimated about 30 towns were affected by the storm damage and flooding.
"Some of the water was so forceful it literally knocked the foundations out from under the homes," he said.
The National Storm Prediction Center on Saturday some scattered showers were likely for the upper Midwest.
Sand bagging was under way along Fox River north of Chicago, which was due to crest well above flood stage on Monday.
"We would hope there would be no more than a foot increase between now and Monday," Glenn Westman, acting flood operations manager for the Lake County Storm Water Management Commission, said of the river.
In northern Illinois, about 110,000 homes remained without electricity on Saturday and it may be several days before it is restored, said Judy Rader, ComEd spokeswoman.
"We expect a multi-day effort to get the power restored," she said.
Electricity has been restored to about 550,000 customers in northern Illinois, she said. ComEd has called the storm's damage, which downed trees and damaged electrical equipment, the worst in a decade.
Power also was knocked out on Friday in central Michigan, where at least one tornado touched down.
About two-thirds of Fenton, Michigan, a city of 10,000 south of Flint, was without power on Saturday after high winds and possibly a tornado tore through Friday afternoon.
"It had to be something pretty good because some of the trees were twisted. I'm not an expert but if a tree is twisted what does that tell you?" said a police dispatcher.
The barrage of thunderstorms in the Midwest has disrupted road and rail traffic and left some towns waist-deep in flood waters.