Shelters open amid Midwest flooding as rivers keep rising


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.”

In Michigan, states of emergency were declared in the Lansing area as officials recommended the evacuations of several neighborhoods. City officials said anyone living in the possible flood areas should temporarily leave their home by midday Thursday.

“While the rain has stopped, we are expecting significant flooding,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said.

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.

In Illinois, authorities issued an evacuation order Wednesday for residents in the city of Marseilles who live near the Illinois River. Fear of the rising river also prompted the evacuation of a nursing home in Ottawa.

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