Rescuers worked through life-threatening conditions overnight to pull hundreds of people from homes encircled by floodwaters — and more work lies ahead.

In the darkness Thursday night, they battled powerful currents; vast, featureless water-covered cornfields; and wind-whipped whitecaps, said Captain Jason Scott, commander of Troop A of the Nebraska State Patrol, headquartered in Omaha.

“It was difficult ... it has taken everything we’ve got,” Scott said.

“The rivers have grown by miles, and between the Elkhorn and Platte, it’s a wide expanse of water that’s windswept, there are whitecaps and the boats aren’t doing so well in the strong winds,” he said of the overnight work.

Boats bumped up against the ground, obstructions popped and they had to negotiate trees and other surprises.

“It was very difficult,” Scott said Friday morning. “The closer you get to the river, the more volatile the current becomes. ... It’s not the river like we know it.”

It was a draining, exhausting night made more traumatic by the capsizing of boats containing six first responders. A heroic effort was undertaken to get them to safety — and then the family they were trying to help refused to leave their farmstead.

“There was so much life at risk there for people who were unwilling to leave,” he said.

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Worries about the safety of rescuers and the public aren’t over though. And worn-out emergency workers are asking for the public’s help: Get out while you can.

“The reality is there are some people we’re not going to be able to help.”

Even higher water is surging down the rivers that course through Sarpy and Douglas County, which mean the rescuing isn’t over, Scott said.

“The problem isn’t going away,” he said. “We’re asking for the public’s help, that they leave if they are anywhere near the water. It would make our jobs that much easier if we had one more home we could cross off our list,” he said.

The only good news Friday morning was that the wind, which had been gusting between 40 and 55 mph, had finally had died down. And the sun had come out.

“The wind dying down was a huge help,” he said.

Thursday night, though, rescuers tried every manner of boat, he said, but weren’t able to use many of them due to the wind and terrain.

“We’ve used everything we can think of, or at least we’ve tried,” he said.

Airboats and small johnboats with small tiller-type motors were the most effective overnight, he said. But use of airboats was compromised by the winds.

Many volunteers have come forward with boats, including a swift boat rescue team from out of state. Additionally, the National Guard has made at least a couple dozen rescues with its helicopters. The Nebraska State Patrol has been using its helicopter to pluck people from the flooding.

“It’s impressive, I’m super proud,” Scott said. “There’s been a ton of teamwork, and it’s taken every first responder and volunteer.”

The scale of the disaster has been hard to grasp.

“In the 21 years I’ve been on this job, I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude,” he said. “It’s so widespread. We’ve had tornadoes and all sorts of bad events. This one seems so much worse and far-reaching. And then you’ve got the blizzard on the other side of the state.”