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By Dennis Romero
Nebraska is grappling with the worst flooding the state has seen in half a century, according to the state’s governor, as severe weather and heavy rain slammed the Midwest on Friday.
On Friday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts called the flooding “historic,” adding that he would be surveying the extent of the damage.
“Nebraska has experienced historic flooding and extreme weather in nearly every region of the state,” Ricketts tweeted.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency tweeted that emergencies had been declared in 53 counties, 41 cities and one tribal area as of Friday night.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been in touch with Ricketts about the severe weather.
“The people of Nebraska & across the Midwest, especially the Farmers & Ranchers, are feeling the impacts from severe weather,” he said. “The first responders & emergency response teams have done a great job dealing w/ record flooding, high winds, & road closures.”
As Nebraska dealt with the unprecedented flooding, other states across the region were also struggling with heavy rain and snowfall.
The National Weather Service on Friday said flooding would also affect parts of the Mississippi and Missouri valleys through Monday as a cold front that could end up affecting as many as 74 million Americans moved from the Rocky Mountains toward the East Coast.
Earlier this week the storm became what forecasters describe as a bombogenesis, or a bomb cyclone, where a front drops 24 millibars, or units of atmospheric pressure, in less than 24 hours.
The system was bringing with it not only 2 to 3 inches of rain but temperatures warm enough in some areas to melt snow and ice, which is contributing to flooding, officials and forecasters said. The front will reach the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday and is likely to produce rain there, too, according to the weather service.
Emergencies have been declared in parts of the Midwest because of flooding set off in by part by rapid snowmelt, officials said Friday.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said his state was under an emergency declaration as a result of flooding that was enhanced by “rapid snowmelt.”
“Many residents and communities across our state have been responding to flooding that has impacted homes, businesses, and cities and towns across Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement. “The warm temperatures and rain the last few days have caused much of the heavy snowpack and ice to melt resulting in flooding, ice jams, and rivers and creeks to rise.”
His declaration includes deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard for emergency response and recovery.
The city of Columbus, Wisconsin, which warned residents of rising flood waters at several locations, set up a shelter for those who wished to evacuate.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state of emergency for Doniphan County where communities were also dealing with flooding.
“We urge residents to be aware of their safety,” Kelly said in a statement. “Floodwaters can be deceptive.”
The governor’s office said the state’s Emergency Operations Center had been activated and was working with federal authorities, including the weather service.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation Friday as a result of flash flooding that has been impacting her state since midweek.
Qualifying households affected by the flooding could be eligible for as much as $5,000 in disaster relief, she said.