Homes are surrounded by floodwater from the Pecatonica River on March 18, 2019 in Freeport, Illinois, part of a predominantly rural area hit by historic floods that caused losses estimated above $1 billion (SCOTT OLSON)

Chicago (AFP) – Waters began to recede Tuesday in the US Midwest after historic flooding that claimed at least three lives and caused losses estimated at more than $1 billion.

The flooding across a predominantly rural part of the country was caused by a large storm last week and rapid snow melt that swelled streams and rivers in large swaths of the middle of the United States, and sent gushing water over levees.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated, roadways damaged, and bridges washed away in several states, with much of Nebraska and parts of Iowa hardest hit.

Officials were also concerned over crop losses for farmers.

Vice President Mike Pence headed to Nebraska on Tuesday to survey the damage, where nine shelters remained open for displaced residents.

“To the people of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas & all regions impacted: we are with you!,” Pence tweeted.

While waters were receding in some areas, the National Weather Service (NWS) said flooding would persist in parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

“Major to historic and catastrophic flooding will continue across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins due to rapid snowmelt as a result of heavy rainfall last week,” the NWS said in an advisory.

Nebraska state and local officials estimated that damage to public and private property topped $600 million.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau, a group representing farmers, said they sustained around $1 billion in crop and livestock losses.

“We won’t know of course for a little while what the losses are, but I would not be surprised to see the losses to go over a billion dollars for agriculture in Nebraska,” the group’s president Steve Nelson told The Weather Channel.

Two people were killed in Nebraska last week as flood waters gushed and a storm raged, while a motorist died in Iowa after his vehicle was swept away.

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