ELKHART, Ind. (AP)
- Shelters were open Thursday to assist people forced from their homes by
flooding in the Midwest, as rivers swollen by heavy rain and melting snow
continue to rise in Indiana, Michigan and other states. Flood warnings were
in effect across a wide swath of the central and southern U.S., from
Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio to Texas and Louisiana. The American Red Cross
said it has opened eight shelters in northern Indiana, where crews used
boats to help residents evacuate their homes.
In Elkhart and
nearby Goshen, local officials declared a state of emergency and asked that
traffic be limited to first responders and emergency personnel. Indiana
University-South Bend canceled Thursday classes, and residents of a student
apartment complex were encouraged to leave.
"I ended up
grabbing my favorite blanket and stuffed animals," 15-year-old Madison
Schmidt, who was evacuated from her home in Elkhart to a shelter at a
church, told The Elkhart Truth newspaper. "I got into the boat. Seeing what
happened, just almost made me cry."
Other parts of the
Midwest were under winter weather advisories on Thursday, with Kansas school
districts and universities canceling classes and many state employees being
told to stay home.
In Michigan, states
of emergency were declared in the Lansing area as officials recommended the
evacuations of several neighborhoods.
Flooding also hit
nearby Michigan State University, where some roads, parking lots and
athletic fields were covered by water from the Red Cedar River that runs
through its East Lansing campus.
Classes in several
buildings have been relocated and the school put up sand-filled barriers in
an attempt to curb flooding.
"Be careful if
you're trying to come to campus," Schor said Wednesday, noting that the
river was at its highest levels since 1975. "Changing conditions are
affecting not only the roads but sidewalks and walkways."
Weather Service predicted the Grand River in Lansing would crest by late
Thursday at 14.6 feet, nearly 3 feet above flood stage. The Red Cedar River
was forecast to crest at 10.3 feet.
The storm system
started pushing heavy rain, snow and ice into the region this week,
affecting roads and other low-lying areas. The weather was been blamed for
hundreds of car crashes and several deaths, including a crash that killed
four people along a slippery interstate in Nebraska.