Authorities in the Midwest declared states of emergency as "historic" flooding overwhelmed infrastructure, threatened a nuclear power plant and killed at least two people.

The surging water, fuelled by a powerful winter storm, shut down roads, forced scores of people to evacuate their homes and cut off access to some towns and cities. In Nebraska, which has seen some of the most significant damage, Governor Pete Ricketts, R, said the impacts of the "devastating flooding ... could last for quite some time."

Today, state officials confirmed two flood-related deaths and said another person was reported missing. One of those dead was a farmer, who was trying to help someone else trapped inside a vehicle, when floodwaters swept him away, AP reported.

Officials said yesterday that at least five states were still facing the flood threat.

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"Major and historical river flooding will continue this weekend along parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. Much of the flooding is focused across Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, eastern Nebraska and southeast South Dakota," the National Weather Service reported.

A "bomb cyclone" - a hurricane-like winter storm -battered the region with strong winds and heavy rainfall. The resulting flooding was particularly intense because the heavy rain fell on snow that had not melted yet.