Southeast Nebraska prepares for what the National Weather Service is calling a possible “major to historic” flooding.
The amount of rainfall is average for March. However, the amount of snow and ice melting in addition to the rain has caused rivers to rise at near record levels.
The saturated ground and additional rainfall has made for treacherous travel in some parts of the county.
“I want to remind people roads are not good,” Millard Gustafson, the Gage County sheriff, said. “Slow down, take your time, [use] common sense and take your foot off the accelerator pedal.”
As of Wednesday, Beatrice has closed Grable Street, south Center Street and Tait Avenue east of 9th Street. Chautauqua and Riverside parks are closed, as well. The Beatrice Police Department has been posting updates on social media and said that neither Highway 77 or 136 should be affected by flooding.
Gage County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to two major crashes Tuesday. Gustafson attributed the fog as part of the cause.
“Several cars that have automatic lights don’t turn on in fog as soon as they should,” said Gage County Supervisor Terry Jurgens. “People just need to manually turn them on.”
Gustafson agreed, and said police will issue citations to anyone “playing around on the roads.”
“The weather is not going to be any good to us for a while,” Gustafson said, “and the county roads are not good at all.”
On Tuesday, Beatrice, Freeman, Diller-Odell and Wymore Southern schools announced limited bus service due to the poor condition of rural roads. Sanitary Garbage also warned rural customers that the muddy roads might prevent garbage trucks from traveling down some roads.
“I did have one bus driver that said he turned around nine times,” Lisa Wiegand, the Gage County emergency manager, said. “So when they have to turn into a driveway, it gets really, really hard for them to do.”
Wiegand said the Emergency Management Agency contacted the school districts to let them know about the road quality, but left school travel plans up to their discretion.
“The roads department is continuing to monitor the country roads and they put signs out where needed,” Wiegand said. “But so far things are looking fairly decent as far as any ponding water. You should never go through it. You never know what the baseline is. You think you know the road, but maybe you don’t.”
Wiegand said the city is currently going through stage one of the Flood Emergency Response Plan, which trains and designates each of the city departments with roles in the event major flooding takes place.
Western and north central Nebraska received roughly a quarter inch of freezing rain Wednesday before it transitioned to snow. The National Weather Service predicted snow accumulations up to 20 inches in Sheridan and western Cherry counties while the eastern portions of the state are forecast to receive more rain and heavy winds.
The sun is expected to come back Friday, with no rain predicted for next week.