With flood risks rising, officials advise that people prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice

With flood risks rising, officials advise that people prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice
World-Herald News Service

As flood waters threatened to rise again with the rainfall, people in some river communities were preparing to evacuate if the situation gets much worse.

Sandy Weyers, director of Cass County Emergency Management, said officials there are watching the Platte and Missouri Rivers, the rain forecast and the possibility of severe weather.

Weyers advised that people should watch their surroundings and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

“Everything is saturated,” she said. “There’s no place for this rain to go.”

The National Weather Service for Omaha tweeted at 3:30 p.m.: Over the last 7 days, rain amounts have been in the 400-600% range above normal! . . . After tomorrow the forecast dries out, but bigger rivers will be high all summer

At 1:21 p.m., the Plattsmouth Emergency Medical Services Department warned via its Twitter account that the Platte and Missouri Rivers were rapidly rising in and around Plattsmouth.

The department advised: “If you are in an area which previously flooded a few months ago, get out NOW.​”

In Mills County, Iowa, residents in areas of particular risk should be ready to evacuate, officials said Tuesday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations could be coming for the area of Mills County south of Gaston Avenue to the Mills/Fremont county line and west of Interstate 29 to the Missouri River.

Several roads near the Missouri have already been closed.

Residents of Hanson’s Lake, a Sarpy County lake community along the Platte River, put out a call Tuesday for volunteers to fill and place sandbags near a levee threatening to spill.

About 30 people had gathered to help at the intersection of Kraft Drive and Platte River Drive just before 4 p.m.

“We’re doing the best we can to fight off the Platte River,” said Chip Frazier, the president of Sanitary Improvement District 101, which oversees the Hanson’s Lake area.

Frazier said the levee there was holding so far, but water was spilling over and through it in some places. Hanson’s Lake 1 is flooding, too.

“It’s like whack-a-mole,” he said. “As soon as we fill a low spot, we get more low spots, start getting boils in the dike.”

Rainfall and runoff from the holiday weekend already has put several highway sections at risk around eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Transportation again closed Iowa Highway 2 — located across the Missouri River from Nebraska City — between the river bridge and U.S. Highway 275.

Iowa officials were monitoring Interstate 680, Interstate 29 and the U.S. Highway 34 connection between Mills County, Iowa, and Sarpy County, Nebraska, said Scott Suhr, transportation planner/field services coordinator for the Iowa DOT’s District 4 Office.

A portion of I-29 in Council Bluffs was closed at mile marker 56, Suhr said, but could be rerouted locally.

Along U.S. Highway 34, one lane already was closed eastbound, but the second lane is seeing water coming up, said Tim Weander, Omaha area district engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Nebraska officials were watching Highway 75 north of Plattsmouth near the Platte River, Weander said.

North of Nickerson, water is on Highway 275, and crews are reducing that area down to one lane, he said. The North Bend Eagle reported that the Elkhorn River left its banks near West Point, reducing traffic to one lane on Highway 275 a few miles south of West Point.

In the Omaha metro area, flooding led to a temporary closure of the eastbound lanes of the West Dodge Expressway around 4:45 a.m. Monday. The lanes were reopened by 8 a.m.

More rain falling on already soggy soil in the Lincoln and Lancaster County area has led to several culvert pipe failures, and officials there are keeping a watchful eye on Salt Creek and Stevens Creek.

Salt Creek is at flood stage near the villages of Roca and Greenwood, Lancaster County Engineer Pam Dingman said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Severe weather could hit the Lincoln-Lancaster area between 3 p.m. and midnight.

“Through our county we are experiencing some very high water levels,” she said. “We continue to get these rains and we just can’t get our soils dried out.”

Several roads south of Lincoln, near Roca and Hickman, have already closed due to flooding. City and county employees are standing by, ready to barricade more roads Tuesday and Wednesday if water levels continue to rise. The latest road closures can be found at lincoln.ne.gov/city/ltu/projects/street-closures/map.htm​

Officials once again implored residents not to drive through water-covered streets. Fast-moving currents could sweep away a vehicle or water could have de-stabilized the roadway underneath.

“Please heed the advice of the safety professionals,” said Lonnie Burklund, Lincoln’s assistant director of transportation. “If there’s water over the surface of a street or rural roadway, please don’t drive through it.”

World-Herald staff writers Erin Duffy and Nancy Gaarder contributed to this report.

Rains cause flooding on some southeastern WMAs

LINCOLN, Neb. – Recent heavy rains have caused flooding on some wildlife management areas (WMA) in southeastern Nebraska.

Water is over the west road leading into Yankee Hill WMA in Lancaster County, resulting in the road closure until water recedes.

Caution should be used when accessing any WMA in southeastern Nebraska because of potentially dangerous water conditions.