City and County Officials gave a briefing Tuesday on the measures being taken to warn residents and prepare for expected flooding.
Mark Hosking, the Deputy Emergency Manager for Lincoln and Lancaster County, said “Lancaster County is under a flood watch, from 1am Wednesday to 7pm Thursday afternoon.” He also said there will be a high wind watch throughout Thursday.
Lancaster County Engineer Pam Dingman said “it is the worst case scenario” as there was rain in December that froze the ground, and that along with the snow melting is causing the flooding conditions.
Dingman also talked about what they have done to prepare, “we have purchased additional large rock, we have acquired additional barricades so we can close roads, and we have spent the last couple of days making sandbags.” Dingman also said that one problem they are facing is the low amount of available trucks due to overuse and wear they have taken this season.
Captain Josh Clark from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office said to “be careful in these conditions, if you do see flooding or water going across the roads, we would ask not to enter it.” The Captain pointed out that it takes just 6″ of water to sweep away a person and only 1 to 2 feet of water can take away a vehicle.
Clark also urged to pay attention to barricades. “Do not go through barricades, those are there for a reason and we will try to get those roads back open as soon as possible.”
Donna Garden, the Assistant Director of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities, said “we are prepared for this storm and have been doing preparations for a long time.” Garden focused on two key topics being water and waste water. The Assistant Director said they are most concerned with the flooding conditions of the Platte River. “We have been monitoring this for a long time, we are not sure what to expect but our water facilities are very resilient.” Garden said that the facilities are able to adapt and are ready for any situation the flooding may do.
With the waste water treatment, Garden said “our primary focus is to make sure our equipment and treatment plant is ready to go, which it is.” The water has also been lowered in the collection system to be prepared for flooding conditions.
Lonnie Burkland, Assistant Director of Transportation, said the focus is on the safety of all modes of transportation. “We adopt a three pronged approach: proactive monitoring, adjusting staffing, and quick response to developing conditions.”
Burkland also said the Transportation Department is in constant contact with emergency management agencies. The department has also “boosted overnight staffing,” said Birkland. “We are looking to keep monitoring those hot spots, or typical low lying areas where we do see some street over-topping.”
Brandy Johnson from Black Hills Energy briefed possible concerns about the flooding and natural gas lines. “We are actively monitoring our above ground facilities, as well as encouraging costumers that if floods are causing them to evacuate, call Black Hills Energy immediately to discontinue service.”
Johnson said that customers should not attempt to turn off the natural gas service themselves, but to call the 24/7 emergency line. Johnson also reminded customers that natural gas does smell like rotten eggs, so if detected, to leave the building immediately.
Captain Todd Kocian with Lincoln Police Department urged drivers to “stay mindful of the changing conditions.” The Captain urged drivers to avoid water on roadways and not go around barricades, as they are intended to keep drivers safe.
Commissioner Roma Amundson saluted County workers. “I really want to give a big shout out to the city and county people who are working to keep people safe,” Amundson said. “I am aware of what the conditions of the roads and bridges are. Not only from what I hear, but from what I have experienced.”
Amundson added that she travels both city streets and county roads and praised both the city and county employees for working hard to ensure the safety of the citizens. Amundson pointed specifically to the county road conditions saying “be careful, they are muddy, the snow has been melting and that does impact the roads.” The Commissioner urged once more, “if a bridge is blocked off, please do not go around it.”
For emergencies: 911
For non-emergencies: 402-441-6000
Lincoln Utilities: 402-441-7571
Black Hills Energy Emergency Line: 1-800-694-8989
Stay connected to KFOR for updates on the flood watch.