Weather & Natural Disasters

Flood fears rise as wicked storm system tears across southern, central US

Susan Miller, Doyle Rice and Thomas Novelly
A resident uses a rowboat to navigate a flooded neighborhood on February 22, 2018 in Lake Station, Indiana.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

LOUISVILLE – A violent storm system with relentless rains and fierce winds that pounded the southern and central U.S. over the weekend could lead to treacherous flooding in the days ahead.

The system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian maritime provinces left a path of destruction as it cut eastward Sunday: Homes were leveled, trees uprooted, cars demolished. Five people were killed, two in suspected tornadoes. Emergency crews struggled to keep up with calls from drivers stranded by rising floodwaters in many locations.

Flooding will continue to be a threat this week as more rain falls and runoffs continue, Accuweather said. More than 200 river gauges reported levels above flood stage from the Great Lakes to eastern Texas, the Weather Channel reported.

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By Sunday, the river gauge near downtown Louisville showed the Ohio River at 34.9 feet. The normal level is about 12 feet. In 1997, the water was measured at 38.8 feet; roughly 50,000 homes flooded, and the Louisville area alone saw $200 million in damage.

Floodwaters on the Ohio River in Louisville and Cincinnati are at their highest level in about 20 years, the Weather Channel said Sunday. The river was forecast to reach moderate flood stage along the southern border of Ohio and West Virginia in the coming days, according to the National Weather Service.

In Adairville, Ky., Dallas Jane Combs, 79, died after a likely tornado struck her home, the Logan County Sheriff's Department told TV station WKRN.

Two bodies were also recovered from submerged vehicles in separate incidents in the state Saturday.