Heavy rain drenches parts of Nebraska and Iowa

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 12:48 PM

OMAHA, Neb (Reuters) - Heavy rain and severe thunderstorms overnight drenched parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, causing neighborhood flooding on Monday.

Torrential rainfall pummeled areas around Omaha, with two to four-and-a-half inches of water creating additional flooding in communities near the already swollen Missouri River.

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, several residents had to be rescued by National Guard personnel using high-water vehicles. Several structures in the area collapsed during flash flooding, and the National Guard rescued children and a driver from a stranded school bus, officials said.

Local flooding was receding, but more showers and thunderstorms could move through later in the day, said National Weather Service meteorologist Barbara Mayes.

Across the country in Pennsylvania, communities near State College and Harrisburg were cleaning up from two severe storms that swept through the region on Sunday, knocking down trees, causing power outages and ripping the facade off some downtown buildings, according to the Weather Service.

The Philadelphia metropolitan area was drying out from a soggy night. Northeastern parts of the city were hit with more than two inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

This month will rank as the wettest August on record in the city with 13 inches of rainfall so far, Weather Service forecasters said.

In parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana this week temperatures will hover again in the low 100s with heat indexes climbing higher.

Parts of all four states are under heat advisories, according to the Weather Service.

Weather experts are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irene, which is expected to strike the southeastern part of the country later this week.

Irene strengthened into the season's first hurricane while it slammed Puerto Rico on Monday, according to AccuWeather.com.

(Writing by Lauren Keiper; additional reporting by David Hendee in Omaha and Kay Henderson in Iowa; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)