20080613 cedar rapids flooding 18
Flood water nearly covers a street sign in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The city continues to evacuate residents as water from the rain-soaked Cedar River continues to rise. - 


KAI RYSSDAL: Today, the governor of Iowa declared essentially the whole state a disaster area -- 83 of 99 counties are underwater after the week of flooding that's hit the region. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and businesses. Rivers are expected to crest today. But the impact's going to reach well beyond the Midwest.

From WBEZ in Chicago, Sam Hudzik reports.

Sam Hudzik: Tornados, thunderstorms, hail and flooding -- lots of flooding.

PATRICK SLATTERY: There's a very slow, almost stationary front that's settled in.

Patrick Slattery is with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

SLATTERY: These folks ... in the central part of the United States are just being exposed to storm after storm after storm, which is causing the major problems.

With houses still sitting in water and more rain on its way, the big economic picture is still a big guess. Emergency agencies say it'll be weeks before they can put reliable figures together. But Iowa's governor says damage in his state could reach into the billions.

Portions of the Mississippi River are expected to keep rising well into next week. So river locks are shutting down along a 300-mile stretch of the Mississippi, which will halt barges full of grain for at least a couple weeks. But grain analyst Jim Barrett with Lind-Waldock says there's really not that much lying around to ship.

JIM BARRETT: The real problem is the supply-demand situation is so tight that we need all the acres planted.

Barrett says the flooding almost certainly means that a lot of crops will need to be replanted.

BARRETT: You know, here we are, it's June 13th. This stuff should be all in the ground. Really what the market needs is these fields to dry out in a hurry so these guys can get in, and it doesn't look likely.

Corn prices rose right along with flood waters, hitting another record high today for December delivery at $7.63 a bushel.

From Chicago, I'm Sam Hudzik for Marketplace.