Iowa Floods Require Helicopter Evacuations After Extreme Rainfall

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Residents in a small town in northern Iowa were evacuated by helicopter on Saturday as rising floodwaters inundated streets and homes, flooding wells and making drinking water unusable, as torrential rain showers swept through the Midwest—all while the Northeast cooked in its first major heat wave of the summer.

National Guard helicopters evacuated residents in the city of Rock Valley on Saturday, according to city Mayor Kevin Van Otterloo, local CBS affiliate KCCI reported.

Rock Valley officials said rescue workers are also boats and a dive team for the evacuation, adding floodwaters are too deep for trucks and tractors to effectively assist the evacuation effort.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, declared a state of emergency in Sioux County, which includes Rock Valley, as floodwaters continued to rise, completely flooding the first floor of some homes, according to drone footage from the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch throughout northeast Iowa, including the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city, while a flood warning is in effect in the northwestern part of the state and along the Missouri River on the border of Nebraska.

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That flood watch remains in effect through Wednesday afternoon, as forecasters warn incoming rain showers and thunderstorms could pass through the area, bringing up to two inches of rain. The National Weather Service’s Des Moines, Iowa, branch warns those storms could also pack strong and damaging winds, heavy rain and “a tornado or two” throughout the day Saturday.

While northern Iowa faced heavy rainfall and flooding, other parts of the state were scorched in a major heat wave stretching throughout the Midwest and into the Northeast, shattering daily high temperature records from Maine to Chicago over the past week (Forbes has tracked summer 2024 daily heat records among major cities). That heat wave is expected to linger over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the weekend, threatening to keep toppling heat records over the next few days.

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