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DEAR FELLOW NEBRASKANS: Update on flooding PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 16 June 2011 21:06

By Nebraska Governor

Dave Heineman

 

I want to share an update on the flood situation that is threatening many communities across our state. Communities along the Missouri River, from Niobrara, to South Sioux City, Blair, Fort Calhoun, Omaha, Bellevue, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, all the way to Falls City and Rulo, are being affected.

In addition, we have challenges along the Platte River, especially in the communities of Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown, North Platte, and Ogallala.

Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and I, along with other senior emergency officials for our state, have been meeting with local officials to discuss flood preparations and assess the needs of communities from border to border.

Excessive rains in Montana, along with a record snowmelt potential in the western mountain regions are putting pressure on the river systems that run through Nebraska. We are experiencing record levels of water flows right now on the Missouri River. In western Nebraska, river flows along the North Platte River and the Platte River have been high all year as water management officials have worked to create the storage capacity needed to handle snowmelt.

I declared a state of emergency last month in order to provide state resources to local and county officials in their flood preparations. Our State Emergency Operations Center is fully operational. We are working with city and county officials to protect our people and our critical infrastructure.

At least 24 counties have activated their emergency response plans and are in daily contact with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Federal officials are already here working with our emergency team, and state officials are in close contact with their counterparts in Iowa and South Dakota.

I am very impressed with the actions taking place across Nebraska. Local officials have done an excellent job. They are moving quickly to protect homes and businesses. In South Sioux City a 7,000-foot long wall has been completed to help protect the community, with additional berms added behind the wall. In northeastern Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Roads is working to elevate the portion of Highway 14 that leads to Niobrara.

At the state level, we have teams reaching out to the critical infrastructure facilities providing water, power and gas to residents to assess their needs. We are developing and reviewing evacuation plans, and assisting communities with their needs for shelters in partnership with the Red Cross. Roads teams are inspecting bridges and monitoring highways to adjust and reroute traffic as needed. Environmental teams are monitoring wastewater facilities. Fire Marshal deputies have been dispatched to monitor preparations at grain elevators, propane suppliers and other industrial facilities along the Missouri River. Public health officials are communicating with health care and assisted living facilities to assess their needs.

Nebraska’s emergency response model involves military and civilian emergency management teams at the highest levels of state government working together with public health, fire and law enforcement, agriculture, and transportation officials, along with support organizations like the Red Cross.

Our state agencies are working together in a very coordinated way. Never has that been more critical for Nebraska than right now.

With water levels expected to peak along the Missouri River in the next week and snowmelt still to come in the North Platte River and Platte River basins, we are going to be dealing with flooding issues for months.

In the short term, the situation along the Missouri River may require motorists, residents and local officials to adjust quickly. I want to urge every Nebraskan in communities along the Missouri River, the Platte River and the North Platte River to be alert and ready to heed the warnings of state and local officials.

Motorists are encouraged to check current highway and interstate routes through the Nebraska Department of Roads online portal at www.511.nebraska.gov, or by calling 511. Flood information is updated daily on the NEMA website, www.nema.nebraska.gov. If you have questions or need assistance, the NEMA public information lines are staffed every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT and available by calling (855) 211-2453 or (855) 211-2454.