Devastating Midwest flooding leaves at least 3 dead and forces thousands from their homes

Thousands evacuate amid Midwest flooding

Omaha, Neb. — A historic flood emergency in the Midwest has claimed at least two lives in Nebraska and another in Iowa. More than 4,500 people have been evacuated from their homes in Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. Countless homes and businesses are damaged.

Strained levees gave way, inundating hundreds of homes with walls of water and forcing those evacuations.

"They were telling everybody, just grab what you can and get out," said Gerald Simpson.

James Wilke, 50, died trying to rescue stranded motorists. An 80-year-old woman, Betty Hamernik, was killed as floodwaters filled her home and 55-year-old Aleido Rojas Galan was found submerged.

One hundred flood-related road closures left entire towns cut off.

"We are trapped, we can't get in or out of Fremont, so planes are flying in supplies from all over, little Learjets and Cessnas," said Jason Chicoine, one volunteer.

CBS News took one of those Cessnas from Council Bluffs to Fremont, Nebraska. The town of just over 26,000 is now an island. On the ground, we found a mother flying back to Omaha to get to work and school.

"I think it's good to see the community come together, bringing supplies in from Omaha and other towns. Everyone's helping out," she said.

The Missouri River is expected to crest in St. Joseph on Thursday. All that water has to go somewhere. But more than a dozen rivers are in a major flood stage.