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Floods force Iowans from homes, damage stadium in Detroit

Gov. Ventura asks federal aid for Minnesota

July 24, 1999
Web posted at: 5:28 a.m. EDT (0928 GMT)

WAVERLY, Iowa -- The rain-swollen Cedar River has swamped thousands of homes across central Iowa, where volunteers have been struggling to keep the cresting river's floodwaters from doing further damage.

Some 2,500 people have been evacuated from their homes in central Iowa, and state officials said that one-fifth of the state's 99 counties could qualify for federal disaster aid.

Flooding also was a problem in Michigan, where torrential rains flooded a highway, and cars crawled through high water in Detroit.

Tiger Stadium was damaged in the storm, which affected communities as far away as Minnesota.

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has requested federal aid for eight counties in the northeastern part of the state, which was hit by the same early-July storms that swamped Iowa.

Flooded highway
Cars move slowly after torrential rains flooded a highway in Detroit on Friday  

Motorist's body found

On Thursday, four counties in northwest Iowa were offered federal assistance from early July storms that dumped 9 inches of rainfall in a short period of time.

Another round of intense thunderstorms last weekend blanketed central Iowa and may add more than a dozen counties to the list seeking aid, Iowa Emergency Management agency spokesman John Benson said.

The body of an elderly motorist was recovered earlier in the week after his car was swept off a flooded road.

Benson said crews laying sandbags, including National Guard troops and prison inmates, became quickly exhausted in the extremely hot, humid conditions. "We're wet and real hot," he said.

"Right now, we're in the flood-fighting stage, and then we'll be moving to the flood cleanup effort," he added.

In Waverly, some evacuated residents began returning home after the nearly once-in-a-century floodwaters subsided, while communities downstream such as Waterloo and Cedar Rapids braced for the river's crest.

The flooding could put a damper on next week's annual bicycle trek across Iowa, which was expected to attract at least 13,000 riders.

The annual "Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa," was scheduled to make a stopover in Waverly overnight Wednesday.

"We'll still be cleaning up Waverly when they arrive," Waverly Police Chief Arthur Simpson said. "The fairgrounds are totally under water. That's where all the activities and entertainment were going to be."

But nature may help out with the cleanup. "Some showers are coming, but they're not supposed to be heavy," Simpson said.

"We could use some 'cleanup' showers, but we really don't need any more water right now."

Reuters contributed to this report.

National Weather Service
American Red Cross - Disaster Services - Floods
Flood Information - Iowa State University Extension
Iowa State University Extension: Flood information
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