NIOBRARA1

The Morman bridge on Highway 12 between Niobrara and Niobrara State Park was wiped out by a flood.

First, the good news for Nebraska’s waterlogged eastern shore.

With inflows from the Niobrara River upstream decreasing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday continued to ratchet down releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, which serves as the last valve on Missouri River flows along the Nebraska and Iowa border.

The Platte River at Louisville, Nebraska, was nearing its expected crest late Saturday afternoon, with estimated flows of between 170,000 and 200,000 cubic feet per second, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer and National Weather Service officials said during a conference call with state, local and tribal officials. The Platte at Louisville, however, was still well above record levels.

But the bad news was that major flooding was occurring — or forecast to occur — on the Missouri River between Nebraska City and St. Joseph, Missouri.

Significant stretches of levees from just north of the confluence of the Platte River south to near Rulo, Nebraska, had begun overtopping Saturday afternoon. Several breaches also were reported on the Missouri, including one north of Plattsmouth, another on the Iowa side of the river west of Hamburg, Iowa, and one 3 miles upstream of Brownville, Nebraska.

“I am empathetic to the challenges and loss people of the region are facing right now,” said Brig. Gen. D. Peter Helmlinger, commander of the corps’ Northwestern Division.

Additional breaches were expected over the next 24 hours, officials said Saturday evening. Peak flows in the Missouri in the Omaha area were not expected for another 24 to 48 hours.

Dams along the Papillion Creek in Omaha and Salt Creek in Lincoln, which are being inspected, were operating well Saturday evening, reducing the impact on the Platte.

On the Missouri, the corps began increasing releases from Gavins Point Dam midweek, a move officials said was necessary to evacuate runoff streaming into the reservoir above the dam. To take pressure off the reservoir, the corps shut off releases from the dam above Gavins Point.

Releases from Gavins Point were cut from 90,000 cubic feet per second Friday to 63,000 cubic feet per second Saturday evening. If all goes to plan, they’ll be scaled back to 20,000 cubic feet per second by Tuesday.

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