CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying sections of towns along the overflowing Cedar River on Wednesday, and communities along the Mississippi River were warned that new rainfall would boost their expected flood crests.
Officials in Wisconsin, where this month's rainfall is approaching a record, planned to drain water from one reservoir to ease pressure on a dam, and were monitoring dams elsewhere in the state. High water in Indiana burst a levee Wednesday and flooded a vast stretch of farmland.
In Minnesota and North Dakota, strong winds closed a highway and even sent a cow into the air.
More rain spread across parts of Iowa on Wednesday, including some flood-threatened areas. The showers came as a band of storms rippled across the northern Plains.
A sandbagged levee prevented the Cedar River from flooding this northeastern Iowa city, but officials asked for extra volunteers to help shore it up. Just downstream, Waterloo ordered a mandatory evacuation of about 60 homes and half as many businesses because the ground was saturated and pumping stations couldn't keep up, officials said.
To the southeast in Cedar Rapids, more than 200 residents of a neighborhood near the river were told to seek higher ground.
In Vinton, electricity was cut Wednesday morning when rising water affected the city's municipal power plant, said Steve Meyer, the assistant emergency operations center manager. He said a 15-block area near the river had already been evacuated.
'The water is at least three feet deep. It's still coming up,' he said of the town, home of about 5,000 people between Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids.
The Cedar River had been expected to top the Cedar Falls levee during the night and deluge the downtown area of the city of 35,000 people some 88 miles northeast of Des Moines. But city spokeswoman Susan Staudt said early Wednesday that the sandbags had held.
Along the Mississippi River, the National Weather Service has predicted crests of 10 feet above flood stage and higher over the next two weeks in the Missouri and Illinois stretch of the river. Most of the towns are protected by levees, but outlying areas could be flooded.
The river was 1.5 feet above flood stage and rising Wednesday at St. Louis, where the floating President Casino closed for the second time this year because of flooding on its riverfront access road.
With more rain falling upriver Wednesday in parts of Iowa, crests at Missouri's Mississippi River towns could be higher than forecast, said weather service hydrologist Jim Kramper.
'It's when the rain falls upstream that it's a bigger impact on you,' Kramper said. 'As this new batch of water comes down, the river could start creeping up again.'
That reflects conditions that have existed all spring, said Susie Stoner, spokesman for Missouri's State Emergency Management Agency.
'We have rivers that have been at flood stage since March,' Stoner said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to close a series of locks north of St. Louis in the coming days. The locks must be closed to remove and store electric motors that move lock gates and control valves, the corps said.