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The Latest: Minneapolis police save man from swollen river

Posted 7:53 p.m. Thursday
Updated 7:58 p.m. Thursday

— The Latest on flooding in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Police officers and other emergency responders plucked a man from the rain-swollen Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis.

Sgt. Catherine Michal says the man, who is in his early 20s, was perilously close to being washed down the river Wednesday night until rescuers pulled him to safety. He was holding onto a rope when the first responders arrived.

Michal says the man and a friend were exploring near a storm drain that empties into the river, close to the University of Minnesota, when the water suddenly came up on him.

She says the current was so strong, it ripped some of his clothes off. Michal says the man was grateful he didn't get swept away, but he's feeling a little sheepish about the incident and is unwilling to be identified.

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6:15 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency for 13 western Wisconsin counties that have been drenched by torrential rains since Wednesday.

Walker says he's instructing the Wisconsin National Guard and all state agencies to provide assistance to those affected by the disaster, which has caused widespread flooding and mudslides in the region, including one death.

His declaration will help local governments pay for the costs of damage and cleanup to public infrastructure.

The covered counties are: Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Eau Claire, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Sauk, Trempealeau and Vernon.

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5:30 p.m.

About 60 homes in the northeast Iowa town of Greene took on waist-deep floodwaters from the Shell Rock River.

Butler County Emergency Manager Mitch Nordmeyer said this reminded him of the devastating 2008 flood that caused extensive damage.

People in the towns of Clarksville and Shell Rock filled sandbags in preparation for the river's crest there Friday.

Audrey Smith's husband had to be rescued after the tractor he used to try and retrieve a freezer of meat from the couple's home in Butler County was swamped.

Smith told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier they'd worked all night to remove items from their home, but they didn't finish before floodwaters arrived.

Water was 4 feet high during the 2008 flood and the Smiths rebuilt. Smith said: "Guess what? We aren't rebuilding again."

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4:20 p.m.

Authorities in western Wisconsin have recovered the body of a man whose home was destroyed by a mudslide amid heavy rains that drenched the region.

The home slid onto State Highway 35 and blocked the road near Victory around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Crews started searching debris for the missing resident, whose body was recovered Thursday afternoon.

The victim's name has not been released.

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2 p.m.

A mudslide has destroyed a home in southwestern Wisconsin.

State emergency management officials say a mudslide Thursday morning pushed a home onto Highway 35 near Victory in Vernon County. Search and rescue crews were looking for victims in the debris.

Officials also were monitoring dams on the La Crosse River near West Salem and the Black River in Jackson County. They said neither dam was at immediate risk of failure.

Officials say up to 10 inches of rain have fallen across western Wisconsin since Wednesday afternoon.

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1:45 p.m.

The water was maybe ankle deep when Glen Steberg went into his barn along the Zumbro River in the southern Minnesota town of Wanamingo (wah-nah-MING'-goh) around 7:30 a.m.

But an hour later Thursday morning, his son and their neighbor were chest-deep in dark, cold water, rescuing six calves and maybe a dozen steers.

Steberg tells the Post-Bulletin of Rochester (http://bit.ly/2d7whoL) the water wasn't all that deep in the barn, but to get the calves to safety, they had to go through the cow yard, where the water was chest-high.

Neighbor Logan DeWitz says the calves had to swim like dogs.

Steberg says this was the fastest he'd ever seen the Zumbro rise. The river was dropping by 11 a.m., so he says he's out of danger for now.

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1:05 p.m.

The southern Minnesota city of Faribault (FAIR'-boh) has declared a state of emergency as it works to hold back the Cannon and Straight Rivers.

The Faribault Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/2dcKsol ) that a large sandbagging operation was launched Thursday morning to protect the Faribault Woolen Mill, a popular tourism destination, while crews were building a berm at the Caves of Faribault, which are known for their award-winning, cave-aged blue cheeses.

About 5 inches of rain fell overnight in Faribault. Numerous roads remain closed in the area.

Nearby Northfield is also bracing for flooding. Last month, the Cannon River flooded parts of the Carleton College campus. Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson says he's been telling businesses to prepare for flood levels they last saw in 2010.

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12:30 p.m.

Firefighters, city workers and residents have been filling sandbags in the southern Minnesota town of St. Clair, where the rising Le Sueur River threatens wastewater treatment facilities and several homes.

Nearly 7 inches of rain fell on the area Wednesday, and The Free Press of Mankato reports (http://bit.ly/2dktUuY ) the problems there are likely to grow as the river rises in the coming days. The Le Sueur River starts to the east, near the Waseca area, which had 14 inches of rain in 48 hours, and that water will flow toward St. Clair.

Public Works Supervisor Thad Baker says the biggest concern is water coming over a permanent earthen dike and getting into the treatment plant's lift station. If the lift station gets flooded, he says, sewage will back up into homes.

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12:10 p.m.

A train has derailed in southwestern Wisconsin after rain washed out tracks along the Mississippi River.

State emergency and BNSF Railway officials say the seven-car train derailed early Thursday morning about 25 miles north of Prairie du Chien in Crawford County. They say a fuel tank on one of the train's locomotives ruptured, spilling about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, some of which reached the river.

BNSF officials say they hope to get on the river when high water levels stemming from the recent rains subside and install a boom to capture the fuel. None of the crew is injured.

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11:55 a.m.

Authorities say about 100 people are being evacuated from two apartment complexes in Mason City in northern Iowa.

Cerro Gordo County emergency management spokesman Michael Groesbeck says Chelsea Creek has left its banks, forcing the evacuations.

The National Weather Service says more than 2½ inches of rain has fallen in the past 12 hours at Mason City and more is in the forecast. The Winnebago River sits 2 feet over flood stage of 10 feet and is expected to crest at 14.2 feet early Friday morning, near the top of the dike on the north side of Mason City.

The city says an emergency shelter has been set up for those who've been evacuated.

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8:30 a.m.

It's a soggy start to fall for several Midwestern states, where heavy rain has flooded homes, closed major highways and stranded motorists.

In Minnesota, where as much as 8 to 10 inches of rain fell in the Twin Cities area Wednesday night, the Department of Transportation fired up its snowplows to move standing water off major thoroughfares. About 75 miles to the south, several homes were evacuated in Waseca where nearly 14 inches of rain fell over two days.

In western Wisconsin, a portion of Highway 35 was closed because of a number of mudslides. Several school districts canceled classes Thursday because of travel difficulties.

In Iowa, the National Weather Service says at least three tornadoes knocked down trees and destroyed a couple of sheds in Floyd and Butler counties.

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