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South Platte River: Flood crests (noon Monday)Tell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by Kimberly Clickner Paul
Looking west from the Jeffers St. bridge, 3 p.m. Saturday.
Photo by Floydene Brown
Hershey study hall students help fill sandbags at the school Wednesday morning.
Photo by Jay Huff
A sandbag line in 2100 block of West Leota, 4 p.m. Thursday.
Photo by Jay Huff
John Haughen DDS, 620 W. Leota, 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Photo by Jay Huff
Shoring up low spots on the bank south of Centennial Park retirement center, 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Photo by Kenny O'Dean
Finished berm in Hershey on Logan Ave.
Photo by Kimberly Clickner Paul
Looking west from Jeffers St. Bridge, sunset Friday.
Photo by Floydene Brown
Water in the link road ditch (center) in Hershey Saturday morning. Hershey public school is in the distance, at right.
Photo by Jay Huff
Small berm on west side of Buffalo Bill Ave. The bridge is in the distance. (Saturday evening)
Photo by Jay Huff
Overhead photo of the river at Iron Eagle Golf Course, (upper right). Taken late Saturday morning.
Photo by Jay Huff
The spread of floodwater Saturday east of Newberry Road. The Walmart DC is top, center. Brown water (bottom) is from the flood. (click on photo to enlarge)

Floodwater finally crested around midnight Sunday in North Platte and then started to pull back from streets, homes and businesses.

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At noon Monday, the river had dropped to a depth of 14 feet, four inches below the peak of 14.36 feet, according to the National Weather Service in North Platte.

The peak was about six inches higher than the highest level that was ever projected, but damage to property appeared to be relatively light.


This report was updated several times a day for seven days, starting Sept. 16. This is the final version; it won't be updated again. Further reports about the flood and its aftermath will be published as separate stories. Thanks for reading and for your comments. -- Editor.


At peak level, water crept to the edge of Buffalo Bill Ave. at the north end of the bridge, up against a 3-foot tall berm that kept water from getting onto the avenue.

Sheets of water spread across some streets, caused by backwash through storm sewers. Water covered parts of MacDonald and surrounding streets Sunday. The intersection of Spruce and Cedarberry Road was also flooded from backwash.

The amount of backwash increased until nearly midnight. At one point MacDonald and a few streets nearby were covered with water. Sandbags stacked along the curbs kept the water confined to the streets.

Sandbags were placed along several blocks Saturday anad Sunday in a massive volunteer effort. Sutherland and Hershey residents donated unused sandbags. The North Platte Jaycees helped coordinate the effort.

Flood water covers a large part of the Iron Eagle Golf Course.

At Hidden Lake two miles east of North Platte, no homes had been damaged as of Monday afternoon, thanks to a four-foot-tall sand dike along the south bank of the river. The dike was hurriedly built Thursday-Saturday by a crew from Central Public Power and Irrigation District.

But while homes at Hidden Lake remained high and dry, water flooded low land on the north side of the river between the riverbank and I-80.

In Maxwell, the river overflowed its banks Sunday morning by a few feet on both sides near the Maxwell bridge. Flood water ran over West Island Road near Maxwell.

The situation was volatile and difficult to predict.

At Brady, the situation is worse than expected. The Platte river reached 9 feet deep around midnight Saturday and kept rising through Sunday. It was at 10.21 feet deep at 5 p.m. Sunday and increased to 10.57 feet by midnight and 10.64 at noon Monday and was near the peak.

The previous record flood depth at Brady was 9.6, set in May 1973.

There is a 30 percent chance of rain on Monday afternoon, the weather service said, potentially adding to high water woes.

In Hershey, water filled the ditch Saturday morning along the Interstate link highway and was diverted away from the village along a dike that was built south of the school. The water there started to recede late Saturday afternoon.

In North Platte, the river depth hit 14.32 feet at Sunday afternoon and remained there long into the night, well above the flood stage of 13 feet.

Measurements are taken at the city's Centennial Park.

Once floodwater arrived Friday, it made a steady march over adjoining land.

Water started to pond in low lying areas, such as the Iron Eagle Golf Course, around 6 p.m. Friday, according to weather models.

When water was around 12 feet deep it spilled onto Iron Eagle.

At 12.5 feet late Saturday morning, backwash from the flood began to occur through sewer and storm drains on West Philip near Buffalo Bill Ave.

Most but not all of the floodwater remained on the north side of the river.

When water reached 14 feet around 1 p.m., the weather service forecast said homes along Leota St. could flood and the South River Road that runs parallel to the river may be flooded.

But the South River Road remained high and dry throughout the flood.

Lincoln County Emergency Manager Dan Guenthner predicted the Great Plains Regional Medical Center should remain above the floodwater, and it did.

Preparations were made at the Centennial Park retirement community to move residents if necessary, Sheriff Jerome Kramer said.

A city crew built a berm along the river bank a block south of Centennial Park, keeping the water at bay.

Further east, the river reached the banks and spilled over in places from North Platte to Maxwell and into the Brady area.

To help protect essential city services and infrastructure, the state sent 75,000 sandbags to North Platte that were shared with Brady, Maxwell and Hershey.

Guenthner consistently said the flood would be difficult to predict.

Hershey residents built a berm along the entire south side of the village. Based on experiences with a flood in the mid-1960s, they were worried. Hershey school was canceled Thursday and Friday.

Water reached the dike south of the school Saturday. The water came down the road ditch and flowed into a channel at the base of the dike and hopefully, out of town.

In Sutherland on Friday, crews fortified a sand berm 2.5 miles west of town, where the river bends. A breech there would have let water flow along the UPRR tracks and into the village.

Sandbags were filled and available to homeowners and businesses south of the railroad tracks, and to fortify sewer lagoons east of Sutherland and the ethanol plant east of the village.

As the water started to recede from Sutherland and Hershey, volunteers hauled unneeded sandbags promptly to North Platte, where they were distributed in endangered neighborhoods. The bags confined the water to the streets and kept it out of yards.

The danger continues. Guenthner said a second, lesser surge of water will follow 3-4 days after the first wave, because of later rains that fell in Colorado.


The magnitude of flooding could be unprecedented, an official with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said Sept. 16. This report has been frequently updated since then. -Editor.



Bridges, lakes

The Nebraska Department of Roads monitored each of the 10 state bridges that could be affected.

The city of North Platte monitored the Buffalo Bill Ave. Bridge, the newest bridge over the South Platte.

If necessary, crews were ready to use heavy equipment to try to keep debris from hanging up on the bridge supports. Motorists and pedestrians were asked to give crews and equipment a wide berth.

Water coming downstream was routed through the canals to the Sutherland Reservoir and Lake Maloney to alleviate the flood. Further downstream, water was diverted into Jeffrey Lake, Midway Lake, Johnson Lake, Elwood Reservoir and portions of irrigation canals.

The waters may contain large debris such as trees, animal carcasses, bacteria, raw sewage and other harmful material, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said. Avoid skin contact with water. Individuals who come in contact with the water should avoid touching their mouth or eyes and thoroughly wash off as quickly as possible.


Brady

Floodwater exceeded projections and broke records.

The river was 10.21 feet deep at 5 p.m. Sunday and kept climbing to 10.57 feet at 1 a.m. Monday.

A crest of 9.7 feet had been predicted Sunday morning, but the water far exceeded projections.

Minor flooding along and near the river at Brady began at a depth of 7.5 feet, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

When the river hit 9 feet at Brady around midnight Saturday, land between McCullough Road and East Island Road/I-80 on the west side of Brady started to flood, as well as farmland east of Brady, according to weather service models.

When the river rose to 10 feet at Brady, water reached McCullough Road along the north side of the Platte River, according to projections.


Hard to predict

Debris in the water was a big issue and expected to contribute to additional flooding, officials said. Some of the river bottom was cluttered with debris and overgrowth after years of drought, reducing the carrying capacity of normal river channels.


Disaster help

Teams of American Red Cross disaster action workers from North Platte (as well was Kearney, Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha) are ready to help residents if they are forced out of their homes. In addition to a Red Cross emergency service trailer in North Platte, a fleet of Red Cross trailers from other communities are stocked and ready to deploy where necessary with dry clothes, blankets, emergency foodstuffs and related supplies.

A North Platte Salvation Army Emergency disaster services team is ready to help and another team from Kearney is on standby. A team from the Oregon Trail Baptist Association of North Platte is also available to provide meals.


Roscoe

As the water came roaring down, the South Platte River at Roscoe shot up six feet in six hours overnight Wednesday and continued to climb Thursday.

It did not reached the projected depth of 12.5 feet.

The water rose by nearly 11 feet in the relatively narrow river channel there, reaching a depth of nearly 12.16 feet by 11 a.m. Thursday.

Widespread flooding was predicted between I-80 and railroad tracks along U.S. Highway 30, and water on the Roscoe I-80 interchange, the weather service said.

Roscoe is 7 miles east of Ogallala and 45 miles west of North Platte.

Four Nebraska National Guardsmen in two Humvees arrived in the Ogallala area Tuesday to support emergency operations there.


Ogallala

The Nebraska Public Power District moved its customer service center and operations in Ogallala.

NPPD’s office and facilities are in the flood plain and are being sandbagged to prevent water from getting into the building. The center is moving to the Ogallala city offices and will re-open at 7:30 a.m. and operate until 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

NPPD is also requesting the public stay out of any district work and barricaded areas where work is being conducted as the heavy machinery and truck traffic creates a hazardous environment for both the public and its employees.


Caused by torrents

Torrential downpours Sept. 11-13 dumped 5-20 inches of rain across the Colorado front range area and rainy weather remained through Monday. Floodwater broke the Pinewood Springs Dam on Sept. 11, sending rushing water into the mountain town of Lyons and on into Boulder. At least six people were killed and 500 people were still unaccounted for on Wednesday.

The rain fell over a wide area along the range, sometimes in average amounts and sometimes in monsoon-like amounts, making the effects downstream in the overall basin difficult to predict.

Streets, parking lots and buildings were underwater Monday from Greeley to Denver to Colorado Springs, according to a variety of news reports.

The northeastern corner of Colorado contains numerous gas and oil wells and active drilling sites that have been inundated with rushing water, raising concerns about chemical, gas and oil contamination, accuweather reported Wednesday.

Gary Wockner, Colorado program director for Clean Water Action, said it will take days for the flood waters to recede enough to assess the contamination damage adequately.


Flood advisories:

• Cancel any recreational activities along the South Platte River. Help sandbag.

• Stay out of flood waters. The velocity of the water will be faster than usual, and unsafe.

• Keep informed. Listen to the television or radio or check the Bulletin for information and instructions.

• Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.

• If instructed to do so, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.

• Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are standing in water.

• Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

• Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.

• Health officials urge you to avoid flood waters, even if they look safe. Water can contain sewage, debris, bacteria and other items.


Protect wells from flood water

• Store a supply of clean water.

• Disconnect the power supply.

• If possible, have the well vent replaced with a water-tight plug, or have the casing permanently extended above flood level.

• Cover the top of the well with heavy-duty plastic and tightly secure it with waterproof tape (not duct tape) to keep debris and sediment out of the well, making post-flood clean-up easier.

• Prepare to have the well tested and disinfected (if needed) after flood waters recede.

(from the University of Nebraska)


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 9/23/2013
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