Kerrey bridge: The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge reopened Thursday afternoon after it was temporarily closed so tree debris could be removed from beneath the span. City officials closed the bridge at 10 a.m. and reopened it at 2:30 p.m., said Aida Amoura, a spokeswoman for Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.
Highway open: Bill Pook, Region 5/6 emergency manager in Washington County, said Friday that the two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 30 on the Iowa side of the Missouri River reopened for the July 4 holiday weekend. He said oversized trailers will not be allowed on the highway. The stretch is east of Blair, Neb., and west of Missouri Valley, Iowa. It had been closed for barricading work on the south side of the highway. He said Highway 30 will close again Tuesday morning for two days while crews shore up the north side.
Fire injury: A worker refilling the gas tank of a portable pump at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station was burned Thursday after the tank caught fire. He was taken by medical helicopter to a Lincoln hospital for treatment of arm and facial burns. The employee was injured as he used an extinguisher to put out the fire, said Jeff Hanson, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District. The portable pump was outside the security building — surrounded by sandbags to keep floodwaters away — but the building is not part of the power facility. The pumps are used to remove water that seeps under the barrier. Hanson said the Fort Calhoun plant was not endangered in the incident. The worker was not identified, so that relatives could be notified.
Bellevue Bridge: Highway 370 east of Hancock Street and toward the Bellevue Bridge is now for through traffic only, Bellevue police said. Because of the sandbagging effort near the bridge to keep rising waters off Highway 370, there is no longer room to turn around. A “No U-turn” sign has been posted.
Omaha cost update: The City of Omaha on Thursday put a new price tag on what it's costing the city to deal with Missouri River flooding: about $3 million so far. Public works officials said some of the cost — about $150,000 a month — comes from renting 40 pumps to remove water from various sites. Consultants have told city officials to plan on keeping pumps in place until at least the end of August. The flood bill also includes the cost of consultants to study levees and sewer problems. Officials spoke near a nearly completed pumping system to prevent sewer backups at the Qwest Center Omaha.
Smell test: That stench in downtown Omaha is just what you think it is. Omaha city officials said the smell permeating parts of downtown is stagnant sewer water from Missouri River flooding. The smell tends to get worse as the humidity and temperatures rise. During the College World Series, frequent rainfalls helped flush some of the water away and kept baseball fans from seeking nose plugs. Marty Grate of the Public Works Department said he doesn't mind the stink if dry conditions continue. “I'd rather tolerate a little bit of odor … than welcome back more rain.”
Office closed: The Council Bluffs Social Security office near the Mid-America Center is closed due to flooding. The Omaha Social Security office, 604 N. 109th Court, can be reached at 866-716-8299 on Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Recipients may go online at www.socialsecurity.gov to change their address or telephone number, set up direct deposit or apply for benefits.
More sandbags: Bellevue needs more volunteers to fill sandbags to protect levees and public works facilities and keep water off Nebraska Highway 370 at Haworth Park. The city needs help from 7:30 a.m. to noon Friday. Officials ask that sandbagging volunteers email firstname.lastname@example.org and show up Friday morning at the City Shop, 206 Industrial Road. Water and snacks will be provided, but people should wear sunscreen and bring gloves.
Shelter standby: The American Red Cross has changed the Missouri Valley High School shelter in Missouri Valley, Iowa, from being open 24 hours to standby status due to decreased need. The only Red Cross shelter that remains open around the clock is at Peru State College in Peru, Neb. Anyone needing information on Red Cross services and assistance can contact the Loess Hills Chapter at 712-322-4017. In addition to Pottawattamie County, shelters remain on standby in the Nebraska counties of Douglas, Cass, Sarpy, Dixon, Cedar and Thurston.
No boater access: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has closed the Goldenrod Access to the Nishnabotna River, on the east edge of Hamburg, to boaters because of high water and unsafe conditions from Goldenrod downstream to the confluence with the Missouri River. Boaters may use the ramp at the Riverton Wildlife Area to launch their craft to the Nishnabotna River. Riverton is about six miles upstream and the river levels are more conducive to boating, officials report.
Animal worries: Iowa officials are getting questions about what to do when floodwaters threaten animals, especially fawns. In most cases, the answer is “Leave them alone.” “Unfortunately, we've seen people try to rescue fawns, which almost guarantees their death,” said Angi Bruce, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist in Des Moines. “Deer are strong swimmers and capable of swimming across the Missouri or Mississippi during normal conditions. So they are not afraid of water and they can find food at the water's edge, moving back with the waters.” The best thing well-meaning people can do when they find a fawn curled up is to leave it alone. Likely the mother is off eating and predators won't be able to smell the baby, so it will be safe as long as it lies still. The department said a wildlife baby's chance of survival is a lot better without humans.
Rumor: Thursday's closing of the Council Bluffs Social Security office due to flooding is more than a temporary move.
Fact: “This was absolutely a precautionary decision,” said Jerry Nelson, communications director for the Social Security Administration's Region II office in Kansas City, Mo. He said agency officials were concerned for the safety of customers and employees because of the potential of Missouri River flooding. Nelson said Social Security officials also were concerned about the potential loss of valuable records in the event of flooding.
— Jason Kuiper, Jay Withrow, Kirby Kaufman, Maggie O'Brien and Aaron Sanderford, with the World-Herald News Service