Homes and businesses are underwater throughout the Midwest as heavy rains cause rivers to rise dangerously high. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports.
Flood-weary homeowners and sandbaggers across the Midwest were braced for record-level river crests Wednesday amid forecasts that rain would add more water to already-swollen rivers.
Possible snow flurries were also predicted for some flood-hit areas.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms were expected to move through the lower Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Kentucky with a cold front into Wednesday afternoon, dumping between half-an-inch and one inch of rain onto ground already soaked by spring moisture and snow-melt, Weather.com meteorologist Kevin Roth said.
Another storm will drop into the northern Plains and upper Mississippi Valley producing rain and snow showers,
However, no significant snow accumulations are forecast. NBCChicago.com reported that early low temperatures were likely to rise following an extended period of sunshine.
Floodwaters were rising to record levels along the Illinois River in central Illinois late Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. In Missouri, six small levees north of St. Louis were overtopped by the surging Mississippi River, though mostly farmland was affected.
Officials in Peoria on Tuesday said the Illinois River finally had crested, but not without destruction. In Peoria Heights, population 6,700, roads and buildings were flooded and riverfront structures were inundated. Firefighters feared that if fuel from businesses and vehicles starts to leak, it could spark a fire in areas that could be reached only by boat.
Seth Perlman / AP
Jennifer Rock uses her cell phone to take photos to send to a friend of flooding from the Illinois River on Tuesday in Spring Bay Ill.
"That's our nightmare: A building burns, and we can't get to it," Peoria Heights Fire Chief Greg Walters said. "These are combustible buildings, and we have no access to them simply because of the flooding."
Among those still in their homes was Mark Reatherford. The 52-year-old unemployed baker has lived for decades in the same split-level home with a gorgeous view: a small park between him and the Illinois River. But by Tuesday afternoon, as a chilly rain fell, the river had rolled over the park and made it to Reatherford's home, creating a 3-foot-deep mess in the basement. Reatherford had cleared out the basement furniture and was hopeful the main floor would stay dry.
Now, he's considering moving.
"I'm getting too old to deal with this," he told The Associated Press.
In Saginaw County, Mich., water topped the dyke at Misteguay Creek in Spaulding Township. Businesses and homes were flooded along the Tittabawassee River, a Saginaw River tributary. Part of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge also was under water.
The National Weather Service predicted that the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota could set a new record when it crests, possibly later this week, weather.com reported. A cold spring has delayed snow melt in the area.
A rise in temperatures later this week will accelerate the snow melt across the region, Weather.com said.
It was a very different picture fort the Northeast Wednesday, where thunderstorms were forecast to give way to sunshine and warm temperatures in metropolitan New York - possibly into the 70s.
Meanwhile, a storm system was expected to bring thunderstorms through the Southwest Thursday and into the southern Plains and Texas Friday, Roth said. Severe thunderstorms are possible in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas with this storm Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:20 AM EDT