Floods surged in Ohio and the upper Midwest on Thursday, leaving thousands homeless.

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Residents wade through a flooded intersection in Findlay, Ohio, on Wednesday. (The Plain Dealer/Marvin Fong/Associated Press))

The floods arethe result of heavy rains that have pounded the region this week, causing rivers to surge and low-lying areas to fill with water.

In one county in Ohio alone, 700 homes were severely damaged or destroyed by water, while across the upper Midwest, thousands of homes were damaged.

"This is a major, major disaster," Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told CBS on Thursday.

Live wire in floodwater electrocutes 3

Three people were electrocuted at aflooded intersection in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday whenlightning hit a utility pole, causing a live wire to fall into the water.

A woman and her child, who were waiting fora bus at the intersection, were killed instantly. A passenger on a bus rushed into the water to save them and died too, whilethe bus driver and another child were injured.

Police could do little to help.

"A lot of officers were affected, because they couldn't jump in there and help because the wires were still live," police spokesman Mike Hanson said. "There are some heavy hearts."

Including these three deaths, a total of 26 people have been killed in severe weather in the United States in the past week. Some died as a result of the Midwestern floods, while others were killed by the remnants of tropical storm Erin in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Highest flood since 1913 in Ohio

One of the worst-hit towns in Ohio was Findlay, where the Blanchard Riverreached its highest water levels since a flood in 1913.

Volunteers and firefighters in the town of 40,000 spent Wednesday travelling down streets in boats and canoes, rescuing people and pets from porches.

The water began to recede Thursday, and some residents returned to their houses to find them destroyed.

"Some homes had a foot or 16 inches of water," Findlay Sheriff Michael Heldman said. "They're going to lose some things."

To add to Ohio's weather woes, a heat advisory was issued for much of the state on Thursday, with temperatures expected to soar above 30 C.

With files from the Associated Press