Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 11:00 UK

Iowa floods force thousands out

Aerial footage shows the extent of the flooding

Flooding from rain swollen rivers has forced the evacuation of thousands of people and has damaged homes and businesses across the US state of Iowa.

State Governor Chet Culver said that with nine rivers at near record levels, dozens of bridges have been destroyed.

He has declared 55 out of Iowa's 99 counties state disaster areas and says infrastructure repair costs will run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

The state suffered storms on Wednesday and Thursday and more rain is forecast.

We're in uncharted territory - this is an event beyond what anybody could even imagine
Brian Pierce
National Weather Service meteorologist

The Midwest region has also been hard hit by a series of tornadoes including one which killed four teenage boy scouts on Wednesday night when they were camping in western Iowa.

Forty eight people were also injured when the tornado ripped though the camp near Little Sioux.

One of the worst flooded areas is Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second largest city, where more than 100 city blocks were inundated after the Cedar River broke its bank.

'Shut down'

Officials say that about 8,000 people have had to be evacuated and rescuers have been forced to use boats to get to residents trapped by the rising waters.

In Cedar Rapids more than 100 city blocks have been flooded

"It hits everything. Colleges are shut down, stores, it's devastating," Lisa Fox, vice-president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, told Reuters news agency.

"Cedar Rapids is completely shut down. It's going to be a long-term recovery."

Wednesday and Thursday's storms brought 13cm (5in) of rain to western and central parts of Iowa.

"We are seeing a historic hydrological event taking place with unprecedented river levels occurring," Brian Pierce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Davenport, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

"We're in uncharted territory - this is an event beyond what anybody could even imagine."

Tornado kills four at Iowa camp
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06 Feb 08 |  Americas

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