How Midwest Floods Affect U.S. Consumers

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WASHINGTON - Towns have been evacuated in the Midwest as anxious residents brace for more storms and more flooding.

And now there are new concerns that the ongoing rains in the Midwest may not only hurt the flood victims, but consumers across America.

More Extreme Weather Ahead

For the rain-soaked Midwest, thunderstorms and heavy showers are in the forecast for the next few days.

That's bad news for those who are scrambling to protect their homes - and for those who've already lost them.

"I'm trying to save the place I grew up. I love this town and I'd do anything for it," said one resident.

Rivers in several states pose the threat of flooding.

Downtown cedar falls, Iowa has been evacuated as a precaution, in fears that the waters from the Cedar River would top a levee.

Early Tuesday, in Lawrenceville, Illinois the levee along the Embararas River broke, flooding homes and up to 75 square miles of farmland.

"Everybody is running for their life around here," said one Iowa resident.

Understandably, many who've been evacuated can't stop worrying.

"I put my life savings and my heart in my little country home and I don't know how much I'm going to lose. I can't even get out to see and it worry," another resident said. 

Bracing for the Worst

Residents along the mighty Mississippi are preparing for the worst flooding in more than a decade.

Already, the Army Corps of Engineers shut down a 150-mile stretch of the river. It could be two weeks before commercial traffic starts flowing through there again, meaning less cargo carrying essential goods.

"It's definitely going to increase the cost of moving grain, increase the cost of moving coal," Lynn Muench of the American Waterway Operators Association said. 

Say Goodbye to Cheap Food

The impact of the floods isn't restricted to the Midwest.

So much farmland is under water that the government is predicting a 10 percent decrease to this year's corn harvest.

The impact to the corn crops will affect everything from animal feed on farms, and prices at grocery stores, to increased costs to produce alternative fuels, such as ethanol.

In the past year, corn prices have skyrocketed more than 70 percent.

With the wet weather in the Midwest, economists are warning it may be the end of "cheap food."

And, for cash-strapped consumers already paying more for food and energy, they're wondering if there's any relief in sight.

It may be a while. The agricultural department expects food prices to rise beyond inflation for the next few years.

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