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Wicked weather sweeps across parts of U.S.

/ Source: The Associated Press

Storms that spread across the central U.S. brought heavy rains, wind and at least two tornadoes, renewing flooding concerns in already soggy areas and leaving thousands of people without power.

No injuries were reported from the two storm systems that hit the central part of the U.S. on Monday and early Tuesday.

Heavy rain brought flooding concerns to areas of central North Dakota hit by flooding earlier this spring. Burleigh County Emergency Manager Mary Senger said the damage means some repairs made after flooding in March and April would have to be done again. Rainfall totals in Burleigh and Morton counties reached up to 5 inches to 7 inches.

South Dakota saw heavy rain, strong wind and hail, with two reports of funnel clouds in Stanley County.

A separate storm system that cut a wide swath across Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri knocked out power, damaged buildings and led to flash flooding. The National Weather Service said that two tornadoes that touched down in central and western Nebraska caused little damage.

In Drexel, about 60 miles south of Kansas City, Fire Chief William Harper said the main concern Tuesday was restoring power to the Cass County town that saw high winds and heavy rain.

"We were able to get the sirens sounded in town, people took cover and hunkered down," Harper said. "We're very fortunate."

Mabel Lee, 81, of Drexel, said the blowing wind and thunder had awakened her, although her building was not damaged.

Lightning strikes behind a windmill on a farm near Baldwin City, Kan., Monday, June 15, 2009. Orlin Wagner / AP

"I didn't even look outside because I was afraid it might rip up the apartment," she said.

In southwest Kansas, high winds picked up a tractor-trailer rig and tossed it from the highway. The driver was not injured. The National Weather Service said it was hard to tell whether tornadoes or straight-line winds were to blame for some damage in that state, where winds reached up to 80 or 90 mph. About 22,000 residents were without power.

In Colorado, at least two tornadoes touched down and at least two buildings were damaged on Monday.

There were no reports of injuries.

The larger tornado touched down near Elbert, about 40 miles southeast of Denver. The other was reported about 50 miles north of Denver.

The tornadoes were the latest in a string to hit Colorado in a little more than a week.

Hail in Jersey
In New Jersey, some residents said it looked like the middle of winter in the middle of June.

A powerful thunderstorm dumped more than 3 inches of hail on Westwood and nearby communities in central and eastern Bergen County Monday afternoon.

Mike Pressler, a battalion chief with the Elmwood Park Fire Department, told The Record of Bergen County that he was on the way home from work when his brother called to ask if he could go to Westwood and dig his sister-in-law's car out of a pile of hail.

Pressler said when he got there the lawns were white, "like we were in the middle of a blizzard."

The storm also knocked down trees in Ridgewood and flooded Route 17 in Ho-Ho-Kus.

Also Monday, parts of the St. Louis region saw more than 3 inches of rain, prompting some temporary evacuations and water rescues.

Some eastern Missouri communities expected to get 2 more inches of rainfall on Tuesday.

Twenty-six homes were evacuated Monday as a precaution in the St. Louis suburb of University City after the River Des Peres overflowed.

Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Moore says residents began returning home yesterday once utility companies gave the OK. A few had flooded basements.

In St. Charles County, firefighters reported at least 20 calls for water rescues on Monday. Assistant Chief Scott Freitag with the Cottleville Fire Protection district says flash flooding occurred across low-lying roads. No serious injuries were reported.