Violent remnants of Ike bring deaths, blackouts in Midwest

Thomas Babu (from left), Daniel Pappachen, and Daniel M. Babu, holding son Aaron, 1, evacuated Sunday in Chicago. Summer has been brutal in the Midwest. Thomas Babu (from left), Daniel Pappachen, and Daniel M. Babu, holding son Aaron, 1, evacuated Sunday in Chicago. Summer has been brutal in the Midwest. (Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune)
By Daniel J. Yovich
Associated Press / September 16, 2008
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CHICAGO - Residents of the Midwest faced blackouts affecting more than 2 million homes and businesses and flooded homes yesterday after a weekend of devastating weather caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

The violent weather in the Midwest, the latest in a brutal summer that has slammed parts of the region with severe flooding, brought Ike's total death toll to at least 39 deaths in 10 states from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley.

As Ike faded and headed off toward the Northeast, combining with a weather system that arrived from the West, it dumped as much as 6 to 8 inches of rain on parts of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. It spawned a tornado in Arkansas that damaged several buildings, and delivered hurricane-force wind to Ohio, temporarily shutting down Cincinnati's main airport during the weekend. Missouri had widespread flooding, and high water on the Mississippi River was expected to close a riverfront street later this week in front of the famed Gateway Arch of St. Louis.

"We've got flash flooding all over the place," National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said of Missouri.

"We've never had flooding like this," said Tom DeGiulio, town manager in Munster, Ind. About 40 Indiana National Guard troops were activated Sunday to help with the evacuation of as many as 5,000 residents there.

About 2 million homes and businesses across Ohio had no electricity yesterday, Governor Ted Strickland said as he declared a state of emergency, which allows the Ohio Department of Transportation to help communities remove debris from roads. He said it would take days to restore power in all areas of the state.

About 450 Ohio school districts canceled classes yesterday, and the blackouts shut down one-third of the state's traffic signals, officials said.

The Ohio outage was the biggest in Duke Power history, said Duke spokeswoman Kathy Meinke. "We've never seen anything like this in early fall," American Electric Power spokesman Jeff Rennie said of Ohio's problems.

Evacuees who spent the night in a shelter set up at a school in Munster said yesterday that the water rose quickly.

"The water was nothing but a trickle in the middle of the street, and by the time we decided what to do it was too late," said George Polvich, one of the Munster residents rescued by boat. "There was, like, 3 feet of water."

The record rainfall also threatened farmers' harvests.

Major flooding is predicted this week for towns in Missouri.

Seven people died in the flooding and high wind in Indiana, the state's Department of Homeland Security said yesterday. Elsewhere in the Midwest, the weather was blamed for four deaths in Ohio, four in Missouri, two in Tennessee, and one each in Arkansas and Kentucky.

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