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Rain, snow to hammer Midwestern towns already hit by floods


After heavy rains, waters across the Midwest are rising fast, with at least three people dead and more showers expected on Tuesday. NBC's John Yang reports.

Heavy river flooding in six Midwestern states — which has forced evacuations, shut down bridges, swamped homes, and caused at least five deaths — was at or near crest levels in some areas Monday.

Downpours have been wreaking havoc on the Illinois River and parts of the Mississippi, bringing barge shipping to a near standstill. The Coast Guard set a safety zone on the Mississippi River due to barges breaking away because of the flooding. On Sunday, 30 barges carrying coal and grain had broken free after the lead barge had struck the Vicksburg Railroad Bridge.

All barges have been accounted for, though one sunk and others are aground or half submerged, according to the Coast Guard.

A section of the Illinois River near Peoria was set to close to traffic Monday evening to protect levees. Shipping restrictions may also be put into place with heavy currents are making navigating the waters dangerous.

And the worst may be yet to come. Forecasters warned that “more rain was expected in the affected areas Tuesday into Wednesday,” according to Weather.com. River towns in the north are expected to be slammed with snow heading into mid-week.

In Clarksville, Mo., volunteers raced against the clock to sandbag a section of the dirt berm they built that was being overtaken by the swollen Mississippi. 

Record flooding swelled in Grafton, Mo., a small tourist enclave 40 miles north of St. Louis. The basement of Pam and Dennis Bick’s home was swamped by floodwater three inches deep.

“We have time to figure out what to do, where we would go and where we would put everything,” Pam Bick, 57, told The Associated Press. “I don’t want it to come up any more. But I can’t stop it.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and deployed the Missouri National Guard to help fight the floods.

In Allendale, Mich., parts of homes were submerged underwater as water levels steadily rose over the morning.

Significant flooding is possible in places like Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill., later this week, The Associated Press reported.

More photos from the Grand Rapids Press

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency as massive deluges were recorded at over a dozen river gauges across the state over the weekend. High waters may have claimed the life of an unidentified body discovered in a creek in Oak Brook, Ill. An autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death for the badly decomposed body, according to media reports.

Chris Clark / Grand Rapids Press

Aerial of a home near Allendale, Mich. surrounded by Grand River flood waters Saturday, April 20, 2013.

The Chicago area, which was hit by widespread flooding over the weekend, was dry for much of the period. Forecasters predict a half-inch to an inch of rain of rain Tuesday, with temperatures falling in the evening and opening the door to possible snow showers.

Hundreds were evacuated from towns in Indiana as the Wabash River rose by 14 feet on Saturday -- its highest level since 1958.

Two drivers were killed in Arcadia, Ind., over the weekend when their cars were swept into Cicero Creek, roughly 30 miles north of Indianapolis. 

Robert Morgan, 64, died Friday night after his car was caught by floodwater and swept 100 yards downstream in Hamilton County, according to a statement from the local sheriff’s office. The body of 42-year-old David A. Baker, was recovered on Sunday. Police responded after receiving a distress call from Baker’s cell phone in the early hours of Saturday, and later recovered his vehicle and dog.

Another confirmed flood-related death occurred in De Soto, Mo., on Thursday when an 80-year-old woman’s car was swept off the road during a flash flood, NBC’s St. Louis affiliate KSDK reported.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.