Residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes on Sunday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees.
Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have led to dangerously high water in creeks and rivers across several Midwestern states, with the Missouri River hitting record-high levels in many areas. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and two other men have been missing for days.
While river depths were starting to level off in Nebraska on Sunday, downstream communities in Kansas and Missouri were bracing for likely flooding.
In Iowa, the Missouri River reached 9.2 meters on Sunday in Fremont County in the state's far southwestern corner, 0.6 meters above the record set in 2011. People in the towns of Bartlett and Thurman were being evacuated as levees were breached and overtopped.
County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius said it wasn't just the amount of the water, it was the swiftness of the current that created a danger.
"This wasn't a gradual rise," Crecelius said. "It's flowing fast and it's open country - there's nothing there to slow it down."
Thurman has about 200 residents. About 50 people live in Bartlett.
Lucinda Parker of Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management said nearly 2000 people have been evacuated at eight Iowa locations since flooding began late last week. Most were staying with friends or family.
Seven shelters set up for flood victims held just a couple dozen people on Saturday night.
In Nebraska, the Missouri River flooded Offutt Air Force Base, with about one-third of it under water on Sunday.
Spokesperson Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake told the Omaha World-Herald that 60 buildings, mostly on the south end of the base, have been damaged, including about 30 completely inundated with as much as 2.4 meters of water.
Hundreds of people remained out of their homes in Nebraska, but rivers there were starting to recede. The National Weather Service said the Elkhorn River remained at major flood stage but was dropping. It was expected to dip back below flood stage by Tuesday.
At least two people have died in the floodwaters. Aleido Rojas Galan, 52, of Norfolk, Nebraska, was swept away on Friday night in southwestern Iowa, when the vehicle he was in went around a barricade.
Two others in the vehicle survived - one by clinging to a tree. On Thursday, Columbus, Nebraska, farmer James Wilke, 50, died when a bridge collapsed as he used a tractor to try and reach stranded motorists.
Two men remain missing. A Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away. Water also swept away a man after a dam collapse.