Floodwaters reach new heights in three towns - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 10:05 am
Floodwaters reach new heights in three towns

The South Platte and Platte Rivers flooded to record heights at three Nebraska communities in the past week, but sandbagging and an emergency levee prevented significant damage, emergency officials say.

Early reports of damage include:

Low-lying riverside homes and cabins were flooded, notably in the Roscoe area but also in other locations.

A small fuel spill occurred when floodwaters dislodged three fuel tanks at a farmers cooperative in Brule.

The tanks — two empty and one partly full — were not damaged, but the pipes between them ruptured, said Alan Bahnsen, mayor of Brule. Bahnsen estimated that 30 to 40 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel spilled.

Two truck stops on Interstate 80 at Big Springs suspended operations over the weekend after their sewer lift station took on water. The truck stops have since reopened.

Ron Leal, emergency manager in Deuel County, said people worked a full day and night sandbagging two railroad culverts in the county. The work was key, he said, to keeping water out of low-lying areas of Big Springs.

That story was repeated in other communities where residents sandbagged. At Brule, people built an emergency levee.

Pete Peterson, emergency manager in Keith County, said sandbagging kept the river out of Ogallala but held in runoff from a rain shower. Water pooled in low-lying areas for a while.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality will test the following bodies of water for bacteria on a weekly basis: the Platte River (several locations), Sutherland Reservoir, Maloney Lake, Johnson Lake and the Tri-County Supply canal system, which includes the reservoirs of Jeffrey, Midway, East Midway, Gallagher, Plum Creek, Johnson and Elwood. Results will be posted on Fridays at www.deq.state.ne.us.

According to the National Weather Service, these records were set (followed by the previous high water level):

South Platte at Roscoe, 12.2 feet on Friday (11.29 feet, 1995).

Platte River at North Platte, 14.36 feet on Monday (14.02 feet, 1935).

Platte River at Brady, 10.73 feet on Monday (9.6 feet, 1973).

The floodwaters continue to move east and are expected to reach Kearney and Grand Island today. Minor flooding was expected near Kearney, but the Platte might remain within its banks at Grand Island, the weather service said.

Floodwaters are not expected to cause problems as they travel farther east in the days ahead, going past Ashland and to the Platte's junction with the Missouri River at Plattsmouth.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported to amount of fuel that was spilled near Brule.

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder

nancy.gaarder@owh.com    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

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