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Floodwaters Slowly Receding In Midwest

Storms have moved out of the rain-soaked Midwest, but the water remains.

The National Weather Service says flood warnings will remain in effect through this afternoon for 14 counties in northeastern Illinois because of standing floodwater.

And for many, power remains elusive.

About 44,000 customers in northern Illinois are still without electric power. Most of them are in the northern Chicago suburbs.

ComEd spokeswoman Paula Conrad says the utility will have some 800 crews on the streets today — many of them on 16-hour shifts.

Conrad says ComEd has restored power to nearly 610,000 customers in the last two days.

Rain had mostly stopped falling on Saturday in northern Illinois as a line of storms moved eastward and southward, and the flood waters that had risen steadily slowed to a creep or began to drop in some areas.

"There's so much flooding continuing from the rain and runoff from two days ago," said Mark Ratzer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "That's going to take a while to recede."

In Antioch, Ill., residents and business owners used sandbags to prevent the rising waters from flooding properties.

"We've done over two thousand sandbags and I've got the blisters to prove it," said resident Sherri Brooks.

Tornado warnings were issued for parts of central and southeast Ohio.

Flooding this week spread across an 80-mile swath through the northwest and north central parts of the state. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland toured some of the damaged areas Saturday.

"What I've tried to do and what we've all tried to do is let these folks know ... that we are working to get assistance to them as rapidly as possible," Strickland said.

Powerful storms rolling through the Upper Midwest during most of the past week caused disastrous floods from southeastern Minnesota to Ohio that were blamed for at least 18 deaths.

The National Weather Service confirms that multiple tornadoes touched down in a 12-mile-area near Fenton, Michigan, Friday. The mayor says damage is extensive, including 17 destroyed homes.

"I have seen houses that have trees go right through them," Mayor Sue Osborn said Saturday.

Only residents were being allowed into the city, she said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David Paulison surveyed damage Friday in Rushford, Minnesota, which was especially hard hit by this week's flooding. Mayor Les Ladewig said about half of Rushford's 760 homes were damaged, including 248 that were destroyed and 91 with serious damage.

About 1,500 homes were damaged around Minnesota. Paulison said FEMA recovery centers should be running early next week in the three counties where U.S. President George W. Bush declared disasters Thursday.

Paulison also visited Wisconsin, where flooding destroyed 44 homes and damaged more than 1,400, most of them in the southwestern part of the state.

Officials in Wisconsin's Vernon County lifted evacuation orders Saturday evening, allowing 140 residents to return home. They had been displaced after torrential rainfall strained a number of
nearby dams.

After last week's destructive weather, forecasters say southern Michigan is in for one of the nicer days of summer today, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.

But thousands of people there still don't have power and hundreds will be cleaning up damage.

And in the wake of the rain, experts say, people can expect an onslaught of mosquitoes.

"It's probably going to be quite nasty with mosquitoes for the next three to four weeks," said University of Wisconsin-Madison entomologist Phil Pellitteri.

"It's not going to be pleasant, unfortunately, for the holiday," he said, referring to Labor Day weekend.