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Rain-soaked Midwest braces for more flooding

Residents of Fargo, North Dakota, aren't taking any chances when it comes to Mother Nature after a waterlogged week in the Midwest. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports.

Flood-weary residents in parts of the Midwest were still trying to stem the tide of murky river water Friday, as late snow-melt combined with days of spring rain sent rivers toward high-water records.

Floodwaters had begun an inch-by-inch retreat in inundated Peoria, Ill., after the Illinois River crested Tuesday at 29.35 feet, eclipsing a 70-year record. In central Indiana, more heavy rain through Wednesday morning prompted a request for voluntary evacuation along the Tippecanoe River near Lafayette.

The Grand River at Grand Rapids, Mich., which reached record levels, began to fall below flood stage Thursday and some of the hundreds of people evacuated were starting to return home.

Along the Mississippi, the biggest concern was that the flood is expected to linger into May, potentially straining longstanding earthen levees and hastily-built sandbag walls. No towns were in imminent danger.

Rain-soaked Chicago had its wettest April on record, the National Weather Service said, according to NBCChicago.com.

In tiny Dutchtown, Missouri, flooding from the Mississippi has become such a fact of life that residents expressed hope that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would buy them out of their homes.

Reuters

Local residents work with soldiers of the 1140th Engineer Battalion to build a sandbag wall near Dutchtown, Missouri, on Wednesday.

Thousands of sandbags were at the ready in anticipation of a crest Thursday.

Doyle Parmer, who doubles as town clerk and emergency management chief, told The Associated Press that residents had been "jumping through hoops" for three years seeking a buyout from FEMA as part of a federal program that sees flood-prone areas set aside for green space or a park. The AP said:

In order for that money to arrive, towns must prove that flooding is frequent and devastating enough for a buyout to be cost-effective, and Dutchtown hasn't filed a suitable one yet, said Melissa Janssen, mitigation branch chief for the FEMA region that includes Missouri.

Parmer said he and other residents were ready to get out.

"Sell the house, cut the grass and get the hell out of Dodge," he said.

For 40 years, Shirley Moss has lived in the same home in the town, but as the sandbags piled up yet again, she didn't hesitate when asked if she would take a government buyout.

"In a New York minute," Moss said from her double-wide mobile home. "I'm 75 years old — I can't fight this."

Meanwhile, in North Dakota residents got their first touch of good news on Wednesday when officials said the swollen Red River would crest at lower than anticipated levels next week, the AP reported.

Residents in Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, have been filling sandbags ahead of the expected fourth major Red River flood in the past five years after unseasonably cold weather delayed the annual thaw.

But the river was still expected to peak at possibly its second-highest level on record, and flood preparations in the north-central United States follow major flooding on rivers in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Michigan caused by heavy rain, the AP said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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