| 2 children among 5 deaths blamed on weird weather
| Wednesday, January 9, 2008
|REMINGTON, Indiana (AP) -- Flooded rivers began receding Wednesday across a swath of northern Indiana where three people drowned as melting snow and heavy rain swelled rivers during an unusual January warm streak.
Two of the victims were young children whose mother wasn't able to get them out of an SUV submerged in floodwaters.
Five deaths were blamed on flooding and tornadoes across the Midwest on Tuesday, the second day of severe weather fueled by unseasonable temperatures.
Tornadoes also blew through several states Monday and Tuesday.
Water had started receding along Indiana's Tippecanoe River, which had risen to record levels along a 20-mile stretch, but numerous roads were still blocked by water in the Monticello area, said White County emergency management director Gordon Cochran. He had no immediate estimate for how many homes were damaged.
"We're hoping that by midafternoon it's going to start going down enough that we can get to some of these places," Cochran said.
Elsewhere, as remnants of the storm system moved eastward, thunderstorms early Wednesday knocked out electricity to more than 70,000 homes and businesses in western New York, downing trees and power lines from Lake Erie to the Finger Lakes. Gusts of up to 75 mph were reported in Rochester, New York, the National Weather Service said.
The same system produced wind gusts to 63 mph during the night in Ohio, where at least 50,000 customers were blacked out Wednesday morning.
Flood warnings remained in effect Wednesday in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, the weather service said.
A tornado that hit Appleton, Arkansas, on Tuesday rolled a double-wide mobile home off its cinder block supports, killing a man and injuring his wife. The trailer appeared to have rolled for 50 yards before smashing against a stand of trees in the rural area, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock.
"The tornado hit and ... it looked like his house pretty much exploded," Pope County Sheriff Jay Winters said. "It was taken completely off the blocks and just tore to pieces. They were both in the wreckage."
Kirk Killins, his girlfriend, and his father were heading toward his parents' house and storm cellar when his truck was halted by the tornado's force.
"I had it floored and it wasn't doing nothing. I looked to my right and the hay barn and shop just disappeared," Killins said.
"I don't know how we kept from getting killed," he said. "When the truck started spinning and I saw tin flying by, I thought this was it."
Killins said the tornado picked up one of his family's cows. The cow survived, even though the storm "probably carried her about three-quarters of a mile," he said.
The weather service declared tornado watches or warnings Tuesday in states including Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Several tornadoes were confirmed or reported Monday in Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri, where two people were killed.
In northern Indiana, Megihann Leininger's SUV stalled Tuesday on a flooded road near Rochester, about 45 miles south of South Bend, before floating into deeper water, the Fulton County Sheriff's Department said.
The first officer on the scene could see nothing except its roof rack, Mentone Fire Chief Mike Yazel said. He said Leininger, 29, was able to come to the surface and put three of her children on the roof: Mariah Leininger, 4, Michael McDaniel, 1, and Canari Trigg, 3 months.
It took several minutes for crews to rescue the four, but there was nothing they could do for Shay Leininger, 5, and Ashley Pruitt, 2, who were trapped underwater.
"The water was too deep, too cold, too fast," Yazel said. Their mother "had to sit there on the roof, knowing that would be the worst part of the story," he said. Watch I-Reporter's video of streets flowing with water »
To the southwest in Jasper County, one man drowned in Remington when his truck was swept into Carpenter Creek, said Shawn Brown, a conservation officer with the Department of Natural Resources. Another man died Tuesday in eastern Illinois after high water swept his vehicle off a road and submerged it, Ford County authorities said.
As many as 150 people evacuated areas around Remington, Indiana, and in nearby White County boats were called to help move out hundreds of people in Monticello, Blue Water Beach and Diamond Point, local officials said.
The weather service reported near-record flooding at the Norway and Oakdale dams just north of Monticello, a city of 5,700 people about 90 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Officials ordered mandatory evacuations downstream from the Norway dam Tuesday night.
The Indiana Department of Transportation said several highways would be closed until water recedes.
The thunderstorms that dumped as much as 7 inches of rain on Indiana were accompanied by record warmth across much of the eastern half of the nation. Boston reached 67 degrees, Atlantic City, New Jersey, hit 68 and Syracuse, New York, reached 70 -- tying a record for January.
|posted by Moderator Londen time 5:20 PM