The latest on flooding - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 1:00 am / Updated at 5:04 pm
The latest on flooding

Iowa evacuations: Between 200 and 300 people have voluntarily left Modale, and more than 300 people were ordered to leave their homes on the south side of Hamburg, the Iowa Joint Information Center said Saturday. About 100 homes were vacated in Council Bluffs, but the number of residents affected was not known.

Still rising: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported Saturday that the amount of water being released at Gavins Point Dam — the dam immediately upstream from Nebraska and Iowa — was 143,400 cubic feet per second. That was up from 140,100 cfs on Friday. Releases are scheduled to hit 150,000 cfs next week.

Stress hotline: The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a hotline to assist Nebraskans stressed by flooding. The free confidential service can be reached by calling 800-464-0258.

Dakota County: More than 100 businesses are expected to evacuate. Two mobile homes from the Ponca area floated down the Missouri River and sank. There are possibly five more that will break free and could also float down the river.

Casino closing: The WinnaVegas Casino and Resort in western Iowa temporarily closed its doors Friday afternoon because of Missouri River flooding. The casino operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska was told by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that flood water will reach the casino by Sunday.

Burt County: There are estimates that 160 to 200 homes will be evacuated along the river.

Iowa National Guard: The Iowa National Guard began patrolling the levee in Woodbury County on Friday night. Approximately 60 soldiers and airmen are in western Iowa assisting with flood relief measures.

Boating: The Corps of Engineers warned boaters on Lewis and Clark Lake, just west of Yankton, S.D., of the dangers while out on the water. Floating logs and submerged debris could appear anywhere on the lake, because of water releases from Fort Randall Dam and higher lake levels. The corps urged boaters to reduce speed and wear life jackets.

Trail closing: Large sections of Omaha's Riverfront Trail were closed Friday because of flooding. Omaha officials said portions of the trail from Missouri Avenue in South Omaha to N.P. Dodge Park and beyond are closed indefinitely. The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge remains open. For detailed maps and up-to-date information on parks and trails, go to www.cityofomaha.org/parks/.

Iowa emergency center: Iowa activated its emergency operations center in response to flooding Friday. The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the center will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Tracks raised at Missouri Valley: Union Pacific Railroad and Missouri Valley, Iowa, are working to raise portions of railroad tracks that could be affected by floodwaters. Brenda Mainwaring, U.P. spokeswoman, said the company uses machines that “go through and essentially lift up the track,” installing ballasts and other material to strengthen the area underneath. Union Pacific is looking at several miles of track in and around Missouri Valley, identifying stretches that require elevation, Mainwaring said. How high the tracks will be raised varies by location. On average, the change will be about 18 inches. The elevation changes will be permanent. No tracks in the Omaha area, including Missouri Valley, Council Bluffs and Omaha, have been affected by floodwaters yet, Mainwaring said.

Flood Flickr: The office of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has launched a Flood Watch Flickr Page, which will be updated regularly with aerial photos taken by various state agencies. The photos can be found at www.Flickr.com/MoRiverFlood.

Health and safety: The Iowa Department of Public Health's Flood Page contains frequently asked questions and fact sheets regarding health and safety during flooding. Visit www.idph.state.ia.us/EmergencyResponse/Flooding.aspx.

Sarpy County: Emergency Manager Larry Lavelle said Gene Eppley Camp in Bellevue is the latest place in Sarpy County to voluntarily evacuate. An estimated 180 campers and 35 staff members left the camp, operated by the Salvation Army, on Friday. That was about a week earlier than usual, he said. Other areas that have voluntarily evacuated include Gifford Farm, Iske Park and Elbow Bend. The animals from Gifford Park were placed in temporary quarters last week, some at the county fairgrounds in Springfield, Neb., Lavelle said.

Haworth Park: Even the softball fields at Haworth Park are closed to the public since Bellevue city officials closed the south entrance at Highway 370 on Payne Drive. An attempt to reschedule all the activities at the park will be made. For information, call the Bellevue Recreation Department at 402-293-3142. The public is asked to stay out of the park, as even bicycle and foot traffic can weaken the already strained levees.

Donations: The Salvation Army put out a request for cleaning supplies. Bottled water, rubber gloves, buckets, disinfectant, brooms, mops and safety goggles are among the most-needed items. Donations can be dropped off at any Omaha fire station beginning Monday or at the Salvation Army: 3612 Cuming St., Journal Broadcast at 10714 Mockingbird Drive, or 5030 N. 72nd St. Items also can be left at any CBSHOME real estate office. Call 800-SAL-ARMY or 800-725-2769 or visit www.givesalvationarmy.org to donate money to Salvation Army flood relief efforts.

Antelope and bears: Weeks of flooding has distressed some of Montana's wild animals. Along the Missouri River at the Fort Peck Reservoir, biologists say the fast-flowing water has prevented pronghorn antelope from migrating north. Herds already were thinned after the severe winter, when hundreds died after they moved onto railroad tracks and were hit by freight trains. The high water also has driven black bears into some developed areas, where they tried to break into buildings, officials said.

Roads closed hotline: The Iowa Department of Transportation customer service line can provide information on which Iowa roads are closed because of flooding. The number is: 866-452-8510 and it is available 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Governor visits: Gov. Terry Branstad toured parts of western Iowa threatened by flooding on Friday. Branstad said the flooding was the worst he could remember along the Missouri River, and he was glad to see all the agencies working together.

Help preparing: Bereadyiowa.org is an Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division website that helps members of the public prepare for emergencies like floods. Items on the site are designed to help people make a plan, prepare emergency kits, prepare their children and pets.

THE RUMOR MILL

Rumor: The towns of Newcastle and Ponca have been evacuated, and the Vermillion Bridge linking Nebraska and South Dakota south of Vermillion, S.D., is threatened.

Fact: None of that is true, said Shea Scollard, emergency management director for Dixon County, Neb. South Dakota road crews were laying red rock on the north side of the bridge approach, but that was to finish cosmetic work. The rock had nothing to do with flooding and isn't near the floodwaters, he said.

— World-Herald staff writers Sam Womack, Michael Holmes and Andrew J. Nelson, with the World-Herald News Service and the Associated Press.

* * *

View the fast-moving floodwaters near Blair, Neb., shot by World-Herald Videographer Kyle Benecke. On Friday, it was a newly-planted cornfield, by Saturday morning the Missouri River had taken over.


Lake McConaughy video:


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