US floods force patients to abandon hospital

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The Independent US

Rising flood waters forced the evacuation of a hospital today as the American Midwest continued to suffer the effects of heavy storms.

The Cedar Rapids hospital in Iowa was cleared after residents of more than 3,000 homes in the city fled for higher ground. A railway bridge collapsed, and 100 city blocks were under water.

The hospital's 176 patients, including about 30 from a nursing home, were being moved to other hospitals in the region.

"Some are frail and so it's a very delicate process with them," said a hospital spokeswoman.

A spokesman for the Cedar Rapids fire department, said the water level will peak today at about 32 feet. In a 1993 flood, considered the worst in recent history, it reached just over 19 feet.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Iowa, but one man was killed in southern Minnesota after his car plunged from a washed-out road into floodwaters. Another person was rescued from a nearby vehicle in the town of Albert Lea.

People in several northern Missouri communities, meanwhile, were piling up sandbags to prepare for flooding from the Missouri River, expected to peak over the weekend, and a more significant rise in the Mississippi River expected next week.

Governor Chet Culver declared 83 of the state's 99 counties disaster areas. Nine rivers are at or above historic flood levels.

In Des Moines, about 300 volunteers and members of the National Guard worked overnight to shore up a levee protecting a suburb and showing signs of weakening.