Continuing rains have caused flooding concerns through much of Tribland, with residents, farmers, business owners and public officials confronting serious situations in many locations.
Around the region, additional rainfall followed on the heels of up to several inches received on Monday into Tuesday. For the 24-hour period that ended 7 a.m. Wednesday, some totals around the area included 2.83 inches northwest of Superior, 2.48 southeast of Ruskin, 2.2 east of Red Cloud, 1.84 southwest of Hildreth and 1.5 southwest of Deshler.
The lake elevation at Harlan County Reservoir near Republican City stood at 1,953.4 feet above mean sea level on Wednesday evening — 22.3% into the reservoir’s flood pool. Inflows to the lake near Alma on Tuesday exceeded 4,300 cubic feet per second, with 216 cfs being released from the dam south of Republican City.
Waters were threatening lakeside businesses. North Shore Marina, near the dam south of Republican City, was giving away ice and minnows during the day on Wednesday in anticipation of being flooded soon. Boat owners were being urged to remove their boats from the covered slips immediately. Meanwhile, boat docks at the Hunter Cove boat ramp were being removed and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was imploring motorists to stop driving around barricades set up on the roads.
At Lovewell Reservoir in Jewell County, Kansas, the lake had risen 9.5 feet into its flood pool and was continuing to rise on Wednesday. Most primitive camping areas in the state park had been inundated with water, and the Cedar Point and Marina boat ramps both had been closed until further notice.
In Adams County, Emergency Management Director Ron Pughes said he would issue an emergency declaration for the county — the second such declaration in 2019, following storms in March that resulted in flooding.
“It’s been busy,” he said. “Again, it’s another spread-out deal with flooding throughout Adams County. Anywhere from the northwest part of the county on Constitution Avenue, down to Assumption, Holstein and anywhere that follows the Little Blue and even 32 Mile Creek.”
Pughes spent time Wednesday taking sand bags to the area around Marian Road and Riverside Road, near both the Little Blue River and 32 Mile Creek.
While there was no flooding into residences after the March storms, home flooding has occurred this time along with more damage to roads and bridges.
Homes at Marian and Riverside have taken in water with this storm.
As of Wednesday afternoon Showboat Boulevard and Pawnee and Antioch avenues on the far east side of Adams County remained open, but Highway Superintendent Dawn Miller said she expected water to overtop Pawnee and Antioch roads later in the evening.
By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the county had closed bridges to traffic south of Nebraska Highway 74.
Miller said water was over the road at every single county bridge on the Little Blue except the one on Bladen Avenue south of Powerline Road.
She said just because water is no longer over a bridge doesn’t mean it is safe.
“If there is a barricade up, they cannot go around it because I don’t know what the bridge is like underneath it,” Miller said.
The extent of damage won’t be known until next week, she said.
“(Thursday) morning we’ll start and we’ll go out and re-evaluate and move barricades accordingly and will open everything we can as the water lowers and moves forward,” Miller said.
She said motorists wanting to travel south out of the Adams County area should stay on U.S. Highway 281 or Nebraska Highway 14.
“I cannot guarantee there is a passable bridge on the south side of 74 or anything on the Blue,” she said.
Farther south in Nuckolls County, officials are advising against unnecessary travel.
Nick Elledge, Nuckolls County Emergency Manager, said Wednesday that several county roads had water over them and the road department was assessing the damage. The rain has caused many county roads to soften. He said the county has run out of barricades to block off affected roads.
“If they don’t have to travel on the gravel roads, we would prefer they didn’t,” he said. “The more traffic we have on them, the worse they’re going to get.”
Elledge said motorists should especially avoid roads with water over them if the area sees more rain, as is expected on Friday.
“We had places in the county … that received 5 inches of rain,” he said. “The water doesn’t have anywhere to go.”
He said there was water over one bridge in Superior and the west edge of Lost Creek rose out of its banks for a short time. Officials did some preventative sand bagging Wednesday morning, but the waters receded before causing damage.
Adding to the trouble, flooding caused a train derailment near Bostwick as flooding waters washed away a section of the track as a train was passing along it early Tuesday morning. Elledge said 15 railcars fell off the tracks. Five were empty, two held lumber, and the rest were loaded with diesel. There were no leaks or injuries reported from the toppled train cars.
Officials closed roads for three miles around the fallen railcars as crews worked to clean up. Elledge said crews righted the fallen railcars and were in the process of repairing the tracks on Wednesday.
To the east in Thayer County, City Park in Deshler is flooded.
“Other than that, everything is really, really full,” Thayer County Emergency Manager Colt Farringer said. “The river hasn’t come out its banks yet, but it’s really close. There’s numerous other county roads and things of that nature that are closed at this point in time.”
Many of the roads that are closed follow along the river, but some are closed that are not near the river, but are instead under water due to flooding in tributaries.
This is the case in Deshler where it is Snake Creek that flooded the park.
Thayer County Highway Superintendent Roger Hofts said Road 5600 has water over it north of a bridge crossing the Little Blue River, four miles northeast of Deshler.
“The bridges are OK,” Hofts said. “We had some roads that over-topped with water that are still over-topped. Part of that problem is from the Little Blue and part of it is because we had a couple inches of rain last night between Deshler and Byron in the south half of the county. That’s where most of the damage from last night was. I don’t think the Little Blue is done rising yet.”