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Storms bring new round of destruction to Midwest

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EMMAVILLE, Minn. — Strong storms smashed houses, deluged neighborhoods and left thousands without power across the Midwest on Friday in the latest round of fierce weather. Hot temperatures baked the region even as residents coped with the lack of electricity.

A tornado raked a half-mile-wide path of destruction in northwestern Minnesota, where a house overlooking Pickerel Lake near Emmaville was destroyed, it's contents spilling down the hill. Wooden chairs and tables floated below.

Flooding forced the evacuation of about a dozen homes in the central Iowa town of Cambridge.

Heavy rains that began Thursday night seeped into most basements and at least one foundation collapsed, said Lori Morrissey, Story County's emergency management coordinator.

"The ground is just fully saturated," Morrissey said. "The runoff from the community just all comes to that part of town."

In Illinois, the Chicago Department of Aviation said high winds and storms were causing delays and cancellations at airports.

Delays Friday night at O'Hare International Airport were averaging two hours, and more than 200 flights were canceled. At Midway International Airport, some flights were delayed 20 minutes.

In Wisconsin, the National Weather Service said a 72 mph wind gust was recorded near Lake Geneva in Walworth County. Funnel clouds were reported but damage was limited mainly to downed trees and power lines.

Power outages and collapsed buildings due to high winds were reported late Friday in Michigan, and flash flooding forced highways closed in Missouri and Minnesota.

Thousands of power outages caused by wind damage were also reported in Ohio, where temperatures Thursday reached the 90s. Cincinnati declared a heat alert and opened cooling centers.

Two firefighters in Continental were taken to a hospital for minor injuries when a tree or limb fell on a firetruck responding to a call, said Putnam County emergency management director Steve Odenweller.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels declared 41 counties disaster areas _ the first step to gain federal aid _ from recent severe storms and tornadoes. One person was killed earlier this week.