Amid a news week packed with presidential candidacy announcements and horrific mass murders, devastating flooding in many American states has barely made the news. Destructive floods have plagued the Midwest and South, with 9 million people in 14 states that line the Mississippi and Missouri rivers currently under flood warnings, according to CNN.
Nebraska has by far seen the worst of the flooding. Water levels are breaking records across the state, some of which go as far back as 1960.
The majority of the records [the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)] listed involved the Missouri River, which crested between 30 and 47.5 feet in different areas throughout the state since Tuesday, breaking previous records by 1 to 4 feet.
The Platte River in Louisville is expected to crest Sunday at 14.3 feet, breaking its 1960 record by 1.9 feet, NEMA said. The Elkhorn River at Waterloo crested at 24.6 feet on Saturday, breaking its 1962 record by 5.5 feet.
The flooding is part of the aftermath of the so-called “bomb cyclone,” a weather pattern that brought strong winds and blizzards to the central U.S. last week. In its wake, huge areas of Nebraska resemble archipelagos.
The rain has stopped, but that doesn’t mean that the flooding is at its worst. It isn’t expected to abate before next weekend.
“Just because it stops raining doesn’t mean rivers will stop cresting,” meteorologist Robert Shackelford told CNN. “Rivers can crest days later.”
The floods have been responsible for at least two deaths, according to NEMA. At least 660 people are currently staying in shelters provided by the American Red Cross, but those numbers reached over one thousand at times in the last week.
So far, 2019 has been a rough year for natural disasters. At the beginning of the month, a series of tornadoes in Alabama destroyed homes and killed 23 people. And in February extreme rainfall overtook towns along the Russian River in Northern California, resulting in the worst floods in the area since 1995. The swollen rivers turned small towns into isolated islands, causing $155 million in damages, and impacting 1,900 homes and 578 commercial buildings, according to The Press Democrat. Three people are believed to have died in connection with the flooding.
The increasing prevalence of extreme weather and natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and forest fires is tied to changes in the climate as a result of human CO2 emissions, experts say.
“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We’re seeing them play out, in real time, on our television screens and in our newspaper headlines,” Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center director Michael Mann told HuffPost in December.
“When it comes to the actions necessary to avert ever-more catastrophic climate change impacts, time is running out,” Mann added.