CINCINNATI – Midwest residents cleared debris from their yards Monday as crews worked to restore electricity to millions of customers left without power by a weekend of violent storms caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.
The storms, 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 38 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.
Flooding was expected this week in several towns in Missouri, which experienced widespread flooding in March. High water on the Mississippi River was expected to close a riverfront street later this week in front of St. Louis' famed Gateway Arch.
In Arnold, Mo., sandbag walls erected to protect several homes from the March flooding were never taken down, and should withstand a new round, City Manager Matthew Unrein said.
"The old-timers knew it was wise to leave the sandbags," he said.
The Missouri River is likely to reach more than 11 feet above flood stage in Missouri's St. Charles County, threatening seven private levees, officials said.
About 40 Indiana National Guard troops were activated Sunday to assist with the evacuation of about 5,000 residents from flooded parts of Munster, a town along the Illinois border.
"We've never had flooding like this," town manager Tom DeGiulio said.
Evacuees who spent the night in a shelter at a Munster school said Monday 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, who was rescued by boat. "There was, like, three feet of water."
About 2 million homes and businesses across Ohio, and thousands more in Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York were without power Monday.
About 450 Ohio school districts canceled classes Monday, and the blackouts shut down one-third of the state's traffic signals, officials said.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a disaster declaration for seven Chicago-area counties. In Cook County, dozens of people were rescued from rising water by boat.
Elsewhere across Illinois, volunteers sandbagged the banks of the overflowing DuPage and Des Plaines Rivers. In Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, truckloads of sand were delivered to help hold back the rising North Branch of the Chicago River.
The rains led authorities to open the Chicago Lock, reversing the flow of the Chicago River into Lake Michigan for only the third time in five years.
When asked if the state could have done anything more, Blagojevich said, "I can't imagine — nothing short of pass a joint resolution by two chambers praying to God that it doesn't rain."
Seven people died in the flooding and high wind in Indiana, the state's Department of Homeland Security said Monday. Among them were a teacher and his father who were sucked into a culvert and drowned Sunday while trying to rescue a 10-year-old boy from a flooded ditch, state officials said.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, the weather was blamed for four deaths in Ohio, four in Missouri, two in Tennessee and one each in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.