Near Bismarck, N.D., officials were breathing easier after the Missouri River dropped two feet after C-4 explosives were used to break up car-size blocks of ice that were clogging the river and sending water over the banks. The National Guard has determined that a third round of blasts won't be needed to break up what remains of the dangerous ice jam.
Huge chunks of ice started piling up on Monday at a bend in the Missouri River just south of Bismarck. The ice jam stretched half a mile wide at one point, disrupting the river's flow, causing the water to spill its banks. More than 1,700 people were forced to leave their homes.
"We had to relieve some of the backwater, which was threatening the people and property of Bismarck," said Eric Kelly, a member of the Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc.
Kelly's team, more accustomed to demolishing buildings than ice, was helicoptered in Wednesday afternoon to drill several dozen holes in the ice jam, filling each with two pounds of C-4 explosives.
On Wednesday, two explosions could be heard for miles as Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc. took on the dangerous and delicate operation to clear thousands of tons of rock-hard ice from the river. Overnight the river dropped two feet and is flowing again.
The National Guard said hundreds of homes near Bismarck have been flooded, but that number could have been in the thousands if officials had not acted quickly and aggressively.
Flooding is also a concern in South Dakota and Minnesota.
While residents were sleeping, a tornado with winds 150 miles an hour struck the town of Magee, Miss. Homes were shattered into pieces, trees toppled, cars were blasted with debris, and the devastation stretched for 17 miles, yet there were no reported deaths.
While the National Weather Service says warning sirens went off 10 to 20 minutes before the twister, they weren't heard on the town's outskirts, where Daniel Frierson and his young family slept.
"You heard the loud noise … [and] everything was on top of us," he told ABC News.
Frierson covered his 9-year-old son with his own body as the walls of their home came crashing down. Unbelievably, this is the second house Frierson has lost to mother nature.
"I know we lost a lot of stuff, I'm just grateful we survived," he said.
Down the road, the 100-year old Corinth Baptist Church was destroyed.
"Only the doors to its sanctuary were left standing," Katherine Gunby, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press.
Magee, just southeast of Jackson, was battling two to three inches of driving rain, when the tornado struck. The state's emergency management agency reported today that 20 patients have been transported to hospitals.
Meantime in Fargo, residents along the Red River are trying to shore up sandbag levees ahead of expected flooding.
Neighbors pitched in to make sure the homes of first responders, like Capt. Dave Todd of the Fargo Police Department, were safe from waters that already flooded his driveway.
"I was hoping that what we have done would hold," said Janet Iverson, a Fargo resident. "I noticed that the dike had fallen where the subpump was, so I filled some bags, about 20 of them, and threw them out the dining room windows."