Flooding in the Midwest causes a railroad bridge to collapse, forcing evacuations and killing at least 1
Flooding in the Midwest causes a railroad bridge to collapse, forcing evacuations and killing at least 1

Flooding in the Midwestern United States caused a railroad bridge to collapse, requiring rescues from the water, prompting evacuations, causing at least one death and adding suffering during an extended and persistent heat wave.

The bridge connecting North Sioux City, South Dakota, to Sioux City, Iowa, collapsed into the Big Sioux River late Sunday, an emergency management official said. Local media images showed a large section of the steel bridge partially submerged as floodwaters rushed over it.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said at a news conference Monday that the bridge is the most important rail link from her state to Iowa. Some of its supports have collapsed, Jason Westcott, an emergency management official in Union County, South Dakota, told KCAU-TV.

There are no reports of injuries from the collapse, which occurred around 11 p.m. The bridge’s owner, BNSF Railway, had suspended operations as a precaution during the flooding, said spokesman Kendall Sloan. Trains are being diverted.

“We have damaged roads. We have damaged bridges,” Noem said. “This is going to affect us for many, many months to come.”

The South Dakota Department of Transportation installed a shoulder on Interstate 29 in North Sioux City on Sunday evening and temporarily closed it.

After days of heavy rain, floodwaters have risen along the South Dakota-Iowa-Nebraska border near Sioux City and along the Iowa-Minnesota border. More rain is forecast and many rivers may not peak until later this week as floodwaters slowly drain into the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

In Spencer, northwest Iowa, Aiden Engelkes was still unable to enter his first-floor apartment in a building near the Des Moines River on Monday, nor could he go to his job at a flooded chicken hatchery.

He spent more than seven hours Saturday in a friend’s fourth-floor apartment waiting to be rescued by a boat. His 2013 Chevy SUV was submerged in churning waters, except for a piece of its antenna. Rescue workers smashed a window in a second-floor stairwell and nearly 70 people crawled out. Volunteers took them away by boat, four or five at a time.

Engelkes and his girlfriend left the apartment with a bag full of clothes, three cats in a carrier and a kitten that his girlfriend was carrying in her shirt. They believe their apartment was destroyed by about four feet of water, but hope they can still salvage the electronics that they had placed higher up. They are now staying with his mother on higher ground.

“I keep thinking about all the things I’ve lost and maybe the little things we put up high that I might be able to get back,” he said. “And then I think about where my friends are because their things are gone too.”

About 65 miles west in Rock Valley, Deb Kempema lost her home decor business, First Impressions, when a river levee collapsed, forcing evacuations and destroying businesses.

It was “7,000 square feet of really pretty things. And it’s all gone,” she told KELO-TV. “But I like to reinvent myself, so we’ll be better off coming back.”

The Big Sioux River level stabilized at about 45 feet Monday morning, more than 7 feet higher than the previous record, Sioux City Fire Chief Mark Aesoph said. Evacuations of lower-elevation homes have begun, and more evacuations are expected as water levels rise.

Thirteen rivers burst their banks in that part of Iowa, said Eric Tigges of Clay County Emergency Management. Entire neighborhoods and at least one entire town were evacuated, and Spencer imposed a second overnight curfew Sunday after flooding surpassed the 1953 record.

National Guard troops assisted with water rescues and transported essential medicines lost in the floods.

“Businesses are closed. Major roads are affected,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. “Hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities have been evacuated. Towns are without power and some have no drinking water.”

Parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa received eight times the average rainfall, said National Weather Service meteorologist Donna Dubberke.

Elsewhere, heat remained the biggest concern, although temperatures began to drop again at the start of the week in the Northeast and some other parts of the United States, where it had been scorching hot for days.

Officials warned the public of the dangers of extreme heat and humidity. Meteorologists said the heat wave would continue in the Southeast, parts of the South and the Prairies early in the week.

Washington, DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia experienced record heat over the weekend.

Last year, the U.S. experienced the most heat waves since 1936, experts said. An AP analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that excessive heat contributed to more than 2,300 deaths, the highest number in 45 years.


Associated Press writer Scott McFetridge contributed.

By Liam