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The Latest Caution urged for return to flooded homes

ST. LOUIS — The Latest on the flooding in the Midwest (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Now that floodwaters are starting to subside in several Midwestern towns, experts are urging people returning to their flood-damaged homes to be careful.

The flood is blamed for three deaths, and two Nebraska men are still missing. Flooding has also forced hundreds of people from their homes in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

Contaminants that escaped from flooded farm fields, industrial operations and sewage plants are part of the murky water now saturating homes.

The water itself isn’t the only concern. Experts warn that sharp objects — broken glass, pieces of metal, pointy sticks and rocks — could lurk in muddy debris. Downed or broken power lines also may pose electrocution hazards.

Another risk is posed by river wildlife, including snakes.

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11:50 a.m.

Flooding concerns are starting to ease in hard-hit places in the Midwest, but experts warn that with plenty of snow still left to melt in northern states, the threat could persist for months.

Rainfall and some snowmelt spurred flooding blamed in three deaths so far, with two men in Nebraska missing for more than a week. Thousands were forced from their homes in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. The damage is estimated at $3 billion. That figure is expected to rise.

As temperatures start to warm, snowmelt in the Dakotas and Minnesota will escalate, sending more water down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries.

Lt. Col. James Startzell of the Army Corps of Engineers is urging those who live near rivers to keep a wary eye.