Thousands Flee Record Floods in Midwestern US State of IowaBy VOA News
14 June 2008

Workers throw sandbags on emergency levee in Des Moines, Iowa, 14 Jun 2008
Thousands people have fled floodwaters in the U.S. Midwestern state of Iowa, as swollen rivers continue to ravage cities with record high water levels caused by days of heavy rain.

In Iowa's capital of Des Moines Saturday, a levee ruptured causing the Des Moines River to pour into the city's downtown. Authorities ordered 270 homes to be evacuated.

On Friday, the flood water level in the city of Cedar Rapids broke a previous record set back in 1929. The nearby Cedar River crested at more than nine meters, forcing thousands to evacuate.

The flood waters knocked out electricity to the city's water treatment plant, which reduced the water pumping capacity to just 25 percent. Residents in Cedar Rapids are being urged to restrict their use of the city's water supply for drinking only.

Iowa has been plagued by days of steady rain and tornadoes, which have destroyed many hectares of the state's crops. The flooding has cut off access to several key highways and bridges.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has declared 83 of Iowa's 99 counties a disaster area.

Iowa is one of the states in the north-central United States that have been hit by devastating weather. More than two dozen tornadoes swept through the region earlier in the week, killing at least six people, including four teenagers at a Boy Scout camp in Iowa.

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