Governor Pete Ricketts and a group of state officials flew over the flooded areas of Nebraska today up the Platte, Loup and Elkhorn Rivers, and gave an assessment after landing.
“I saw livestock stranded on sandbars, we’ve seen fields that were flooded, just a lot of devastation out there,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts expressed one major request to the general public: “There’s still many roads that are covered. We saw a lot of county roads that had water on them, [as well as] Hwy 30, Hwy 275, Hwy 81, all these highways had water on them at different parts of them. So what we want to stress is, if you do not have to travel, please do not travel. And if you do see water on a roadway, do not try to drive through it. We have had people go missing because of driving through roadways and their cars getting swept off.”
Right now, the only east-west route from Nebraska to Iowa or Missouri is Interstate 80. Major highways and most county roads have stretches closed because of high water.
Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer, whose home city, Norfolk, is returning after flood evacuations, was clearly stunned by the flooding saying: “It’s just so widespread. I mean, the Elkhorn River literally is miles wide. So it’s going to be a long haul for a lot of the communities along the rivers.”
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Spokesman Brian Tuma said many of those flooded communities are beginning to have infrastructure problems: “Things like water systems, water treatment facilities…we’re seeing some water main breaks, people are struggling to have potable water in some communities and so we’re making arrangements to get those types of issues addressed.”
National Guard Major General Daryl Bohac said three Guard Helicopters have been busy with rescuing stranded people; 37 last night: “One of our helicopters [was] conducting [a] hoist operation, lifting three people off a roof of a house that’s been completely surrounded and they have no ability to get out.”
Gov. Ricketts added: “The amount of water that’s flowing is just stunning. It was hard to know where the channel of the Platte was at times, it was hard to know where the channel of the Elkhorn was. I mean, the Elkhorn looked like the Missouri River. [We saw] cattle that were stranded on sandbars, we saw levees that were broken; we probably have the most widespread flooding devastation that we have had in at least the last half century.”
Many areas of Nebraska have had evacuations, including:
If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, Red Cross has established shelters in the following locations: