Nightly News   |  April 21, 2013

Midwest battling mother nature

Americans throughout the Midwest are working furiously to fight off Mother Nature as the spring flooding season arrives. NBC’s John Yang reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> spiriva. rivers have overflowed their banks triggering deadly flooding. nbc's john yang has the latest from clarksville , missouri. john, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. so far, this round of the river versus man is going to the residents of clarksville , missouri. four days of furious sandbagging have kept the water from inundating downtown. trish connelly had planned to open a new fine arts gallery in clarksville 's historic downtown this weekend. instead, she's been sandbagging to try to save it.

>> everybody's pulling and helping. we could still just use more help.

>> reporter: this town 75 miles north of st. louis has flooded at least four times in the last 18 years. this year, it's come early. the high water forced the army corp of engineers to close locks and halt traffic. two bridges were closed for several hours after more than 100 barges broke loose saturday night south of st. louis . it's a far cry from just a few months ago when drought conditions threatens to bring river traffic to a standstill. rivers are rising fast across a huge swaths of the midwest, a result of last week's storms dumping a month's worth of rain in just a few hours. it triggered widespread flash flooding and sinkholes in chicago and caused dozens of rivers to swell. evacuations are under way, roads closed as hundreds of acres of farmland are swallowed by water. at least three deaths are blamed on the floodwaters. in central indiana, today, authorities found the body of a man swept away by rising water.

>> 911 called. said water picked his truck up.

>> reporter: in lowell, michigan, near grand rapids , record floodwaters damaged hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses. back in clarksville standing on the deck of his house, douglas says he feels like is he on the deck of a ship.

>> when the river is low it is a beauty. when it is high it is a beast.

>> reporter: tonight the town's holding its breath anxiously waiting to see if the sandbags hold. and they know this is only the beginning.

>> we're not out of the woods. if we have rain up north or that quick snow melt , we're going to see higher levels yet.

>> reporter: already major flooding forecast for later this week from northern iowa to st. louis . lester?

>> anxious days there, john, thanks.