Two dead as US Midwest battered by heavy storms

David Millward
Highway 281 is seen damaged after a storm triggered historic flooding, in Niobrara, Nebraska - REUTERS

At least two people have been killed after a vast swathe of the American Midwest was flooded by a combination of heavy rain and melting snow.

An estimated 10 million people were subject to a flood warning as water levels rose dramatically, particularly in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. The US National Weather Service said it would continue early into next week.

Debris is seen after a storm triggered historic flooding in Niobrara, Nebraska Credit: Reuters

According to meteorologists, the flooding was a result of a "bomb cyclone" which swept across the US from the Rockies to the Central Plains last week.  The difficulties were exacerbated by the frozen ground, which meant the water could not drain away.

Several states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and South Dakota have declared a state of emergency.

Pete Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska, said the storms had caused "unbelievable devastation" with the state suffering the worst floods in half a century.

The Platte River, near Louisville, reached its highest level since 1960.  Fremont, a town which is approximately 40 miles northwest of Omaha, was reported to have been turned into an island by the floodwater.

Rescue attempts in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa were slowed by reports that several levees had been breached, sweeping away bridges and roads.

Fatalities were reported in Nebraska and Iowa. Aleido Rojas Galan, 52, was swept away by the flood.

James Wilke, 50, from Columbus, Nebraska, was killed as he tried to rescue somebody from a vehicle trapped in the floodwaters.