Coast Guard Rescues More Than 40 People in Michigan

Emergency crews help evacuate residents on Feb. 21, 2018, in Elkhart, Ind.  Crews are using boats to help northern Indiana residents amid flooding from melting snow and heavy rain moving across the Midwest.   (Becky Malewitz /South Bend Tribune via AP)
Emergency crews help evacuate residents on Feb. 21, 2018, in Elkhart, Ind. Crews are using boats to help northern Indiana residents amid flooding from melting snow and heavy rain moving across the Midwest. (Becky Malewitz /South Bend Tribune via AP)

ELKHART, Ind. -- The Coast Guard says it has rescued more than 40 people and their pets from flooded neighborhoods in southwestern Michigan.

The Coast Guard said Thursday it's helping local authorities conduct house-to-house rescues and evacuations along the St. Joseph River.

In one case Thursday morning, it said its St. Joseph, Michigan, station was asked to check on two people living in a mandatory evacuation zone in Sodus Township, about 3 miles  east of the city of St. Joseph.

Fire department crews were unable to reach the two because of high water.

A Coast Guard crew arrived on scene and helped the two people from their flooded home.

Crews from the Michigan City, Indiana, station also have participated in the rescues.

Officials in northern Indiana's largest city were forced to shut down its wastewater treatment plant as it was swamped by flooding from a record-high river crest caused by heavy rain and melting snow in parts of the Midwest.

The city of South Bend says the treatment plant restarted at limited capacity Thursday morning after being shut down overnight. The plant shutdown forced it to release untreated sewage water into the St. Joseph River.

The National Weather Service says the river crested at 12.7 feet late Wednesday -- nearly 2 feet higher than its previous record.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg issued an emergency declaration for the city, allowing for tougher enforcement of numerous street closures. Officials haven't yet estimated the extent of building damage.

Shelters are open to assist people forced from their homes by flooding as rivers swollen by heavy rain and melting snow rise in Indiana, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest.

Flood warnings were in effect for parts of several states Thursday, from Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio to Texas and Louisiana.

The American Red Cross says it has opened eight shelters in northern Indiana, where crews used boats to help residents evacuate their homes. Indiana University-South Bend canceled Thursday classes, and residents of a student apartment complex were encouraged to leave.

Meanwhile, residents in Mississippi's Delta region are bracing for a flood threat that's expected to continue through Saturday night.

The National Weather Service said the area most at risk of flooding is along the western side of the state, near the Mississippi River.

The Delta Democrat-Times reports that city and county crews on Thursday were filling sandbags after heavy rain caused some flooding in parts of Washington County, home to the city of Greenville.

Anna Wolverton, a forecaster with the National Weather service in Jackson, said 3 inches of rain had fallen within a 24-hour period at Greenville's airport, which is about 100 miles  northwest of Jackson, Mississippi.

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