Lincoln officials haven't been this nervous about flooding since May 2015, when heavy rains claimed a student's life, caused about $4 million in damage to public infrastructure and led to numerous water rescues.

So on Tuesday afternoon, about a half-dozen emergency and public works officials advised the public against driving on flooded streets, playing in floodwaters — and to be prepared to evacuate homes in low-lying areas.

Lincoln has received more than six inches of rain in the last four days, with another one to three inches on the way after midnight Tuesday.

Similarly, a large part of southern and southeast Nebraska is at risk of flooding due to forecast rain on top of already-saturated soils. The National Weather Service has advised that a number of streams could spill out of their banks, including the Wahoo, Turkey and Salt Creeks and the Big and Little Blue Rivers.

Pamela Dingman, the Lancaster County engineer, said creeks rose Tuesday, and another round of heavy rain overnight "will have a dramatic impact."

In May of 2015, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student was swept to her death when she lost her footing on a flooded path along Antelope Creek. A number of people were evacuated from low-lying areas, and many drivers required rescuing. That was the year four Nebraskans died in floodwaters.

Tom Casady, director of public safety for Lincoln, said authorities aren't expecting a repeat of 2015. But he said, "We need people in low-lying areas to be thinking of now about what they'll do if we need them to evacuate." 

This means think about where you'll stay, your mode of transportation, your medications, he said.

Todd Duncan, chief deputy of the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, encouraged people to take the message seriously.  More deaths occur from flooding than any other thunderstorm-related risk, he said, and more than half of those deaths result from driving onto a flooded road.

And by the way, Dingman said, that Cadillac Escalade you're driving? It will float away in the same 10 inches of water that will pick up a Toyota Prius.

"We just really want people to stay out of the water," Dingman said.

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Phone: 402-444-1102.

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