Floodwaters rise in Midwest after heavy rain, snow
Authorities were using boats and large vehicles on Saturday to rescue and evacuate residents in parts of the Midwest where a recent deluge of rainwater and snowmelt was sent pouring over frozen ground, overwhelming creeks and rivers, and killing at least one person.
Rescue efforts in eastern Nebraska were hampered by reports of levee breaches and washouts of bridges and roads, including part of Nebraska Highway 92, leading in and out of south- west Omaha. Authorities confirmed that a bridge on that highway that crosses the Elkhorn River had been washed out Saturday. In Fremont, west of Omaha, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office issued amandatory evacuation for some residents after floodwaters broke through a levee along the Platte River. And in Mills County, Iowa, authorities ordered people in some rural areas to evacuate after the Missouri River overtopped levees.
The flooding followed days of snow and rain – record-setting, in some places – that swept through the West and Midwest. The deluge pushed some water- ways, including the Missouri River, to record levels in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The flooding was the worst in nearly a decade in places.
The family of farmer James Wilke, 50, of Columbus, Neb., said he was killed Thursday when a bridge collapsed as he was using his tractor to try to reach stranded motorists on Thursday. His body was found downstream, his cousin Paul Wilke told the Columbus Telegram. Gass Haney Funeral Home confirmed James Wilke’s death.
At least two other people were missing in floodwaters in Nebraska. Officials said a Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away in the water and another man was swept away by waters when a dam collapsed on the Niobrara River.
Officials in Sarpy County, south of Omaha, said Saturday that power may be shut off to communities along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers for safety reasons. They warned those who choose to ignore calls to evacuate that rescues would be attempted only during daylight hours. Some cities and towns, such as North Bend on the banks of the Platte River, were submerged. Others, such as Waterloo and Fremont, were surrounded by floodwaters, stranding residents in virtual islands with no access in or out.
Ducks swim Saturday as the high waters of the Missouri River almost submerge statue figures in Omaha, Neb.