INDIANAPOLIS/CHICAGO The torrential rain that has brought damaging floods to the Chicago area afflicted neighboring Indiana on Friday, closing schools and roads in the north and central part of the state.
Storms dumped up to five inches in parts of Indiana, and the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for most of the state.
"Numerous homes are underwater or flooded, stranding homeowners and their families," said Deputy Chris Burcham of the Boone County Sheriff's Department.
Both Boone and Tipton counties north of Indianapolis declared states of emergency on Friday, asking motorists to restrict travel due to flooded roads. Tipton emergency crews have rescued 22 people from several locations, using boats to help people trapped in their homes.
The National Weather Service warned of flooding from northeastern Missouri through Illinois to southern Wisconsin and Michigan. Flooding is reported along several rivers in the Midwest, including the Mississippi, Illinois, Fox, Des Plaines and Wabash.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Friday, activating the National Guard. Iowa Gov. Terry Bransted issued disaster declarations for five eastern counties, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared 38 counties disaster areas.
"Illinois has seen an incredible level of devastation and reports indicate that conditions will get worse in the coming days... " Quinn said. "As we wait for the floods to pass, all Illinois residents should continue to take precautions, and stay off the roads if possible."
Rain and thunderstorms were pushing eastward from the Appalachians to the coast on Friday, becoming more extensive from New York City to Atlanta during the afternoon and evening hours, according to Accuweather.com.
The Chicago area, which got three to seven inches of rain over 24 hours on Wednesday night and Thursday, continued to struggle on Friday, with flood waters blocking suburban arterial streets.
Chicago-area residents trying to clean water and rubbish out of flooded basements Friday morning woke to temperatures that had fallen from the 60s on Thursday to the 30s, with snow flurries.
"The main thing for today is the blustery chill," said Elliot Abrams, an Accuweather.com meteorologist, in a broadcast on the website. "It feels like early March or late February instead of late April." But he said there would be little precipitation over the next few days, helping the Chicago area to dry out.
The heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday fell on already soaked ground. The recent storm brought April rainfall to just under 8 inches at O'Hare International Airport, making for the third-wettest April to date on record, according to the WGN's Chicago Weather Center.
(Reporting by David Dawson and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler)