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1 dead, 2 missing as extreme flooding hinders rescues across Midwest

(FOX NEWS) -- At least one person is dead and two more are missing after extreme flooding from snowmelt and heavy rains continued to overwhelm most of the Midwest, hindering rescue efforts on Saturday.

James Wilke, 50, died Thursday in Nebraska while trying to rescue a stranded driver using his tractor, family members said. The bridge he was on collapsed and his body was later found downstream.

Two other people in Nebraska were reported missing because of rising floodwaters. One man was last seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away. Another man was carried away by floodwaters when a dam on the Niobrara River collapsed.

The dangerous floodwaters come after days of snow and rain swept through the West and Midwest, setting records in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

On Saturday rescue efforts were stifled in Omaha after levee breaches and washouts of bridges and roads prevented officials from reaching people in need.

Authorities confirmed that a bridge crossing the Elkhorn River washed out Saturday. In Freemont, west of Omaha, the Dodge County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation for some residents after floodwaters broke through a levee along the Platte River. And in Mills County, Iowa, authorities ordered people in some rural areas to evacuate after the Missouri River overtopped levees.

Officials in Sarpy County said Saturday that power may be shut off to communities along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn Rivers for safety reasons.

Farther east, the Mississippi River saw moderate flooding in Illinois from Rock Island south to Gladstone. Meteorologist Brian Pierce with the National Weather Service's Quad Cities office in Davenport, Iowa, said flooding on the Mississippi could get worse in early April, as more snow melts in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"What we're having now is the dress rehearsal for the main event that's going to happen in early April," he said of the flooding on the Mississippi.

Rising waters along the Pecatonica and Rock Rivers flooded some homes in the northern Illinois cities of Freeport, Rockford and Machesney Park. The weather service said record crests were possible along the rivers, with water levels forecast to continue to rise over the next several days and remain above flood stage through most of the weekend.


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