Niobrara

The Country Cafe in Niobrara was nearly destroyed when giant chunks of ice were launched in the area by floodwaters after the Spencer Dam was compromised.

UPDATE, 4:25 p.m.: Releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota were reduced to 53,000 cubic feet per second Sunday morning and will be further reduced to 43,000 cfs this evening, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. At one point in the past week, Gavins Point releases surged as high as 100,000 cfs.

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UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: While Hamburg, Iowa, residents tried to shore up parts of their town with sandbags, swelling Missouri River waters topped a levee to the west of town shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday.

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UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: Boyd County, Nebraska, which was considered part of South Dakota before 1895, might feel that way again after flooding closed the three main bridges across the Niobrara River to the rest of Nebraska.

Bridges south of Butte and Spencer are closed, and the so-called “Mormon” bridge in Niobrara washed away.

“Maybe they’ll adopt us,” Kyle Krotter, a member of the Spencer Village Board, said of South Dakota.

One man is missing and presumed dead. He lived in a home just below the 91-year-old Spencer Dam, which collapsed Thursday morning, sweeping away the home, a straw-bale tavern and a bait shop.

On Sunday, Krotter and others were working to collect bottled water for residents of the Spencer and Lynch areas. The water main that supplied those areas, located below the Niobrara, was snapped.

More than 60 families were displaced by flooding from the Ponca Creek in Lynch. Deliveries of food and other goods are now diverting through South Dakota to the area.

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UPDATE, 2:43 p.m.: Chunks of ice up to 2 feet thick acted like bulldozers in the floodwaters at Niobrara, Nebraska, battering down walls and crumpling metal Quonset huts like cellophane.

“It’s total devastation. The ice just destroyed everything,” said Laura Sucha, as she surveyed what’s left of the Country Cafe, a popular eatery she’s owned since 2015.

A local gas station, storage complex and state roads garage were among the buildings wrecked in the ice, which left piles 6- to 10-feet high in places around the town, located where the Niobrara River flows into the Missouri River.

The bridge between the town and Niobrara State Park was blown out, and the city is working to restore drinking water to local residents.

About 35 miles upstream is Spencer Dam, which collapsed Thursday morning, sending a wall of ice and water toward Niobrara.

“It just looked like the end of the world coming,” said Mayor Jody Stark. He said it may be two weeks before the drinking water system is repaired, recharged and disinfected.

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UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: Volunteers and donations are still needed.

On Sunday, Omaha metro area residents were streaming into a donation center to drop off items for flood victims. The Salvation Army has set up the collection and distribution center at the old Canfield's sporting goods store near 84th Street and West Center Road. The center will be open until 7 p.m. Sunday. The schedule for Monday hasn't been set. The agency is suggesting donations of flood cleanup and flood relief items such as shovels, masks, disinfectant, tarps, bottled water and sports drinks. Volunteers are still needed at sites throughout the recovery effort. To sign up, call 402-898-6050 or visit registertoring.com.

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UPDATE, 1:15 p.m.: Classes have been canceled for Monday at all three Douglas County West schools due to flooding, the superintendent said Sunday.

The campus is inaccessible, said Melissa Poloncic. Groundwater is also coming up in the school's boiler room, she said.

"We'll take it one day at time," Poloncic said. "The water is coming up in our boiler room but the school is otherwise dry."

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UPDATE, 12:55 p.m.: The Elkhorn River has dropped at the Maple Street bridge near Waterloo, the town's fire chief said Sunday.

"I can't speak to other parts of the river, but it has dropped at the bridge," Chief Travis Harlow said.

Members of the Waterloo Fire Department continue to respond to medical emergencies and make evacuations as needed, he said. Harlow said the Douglas County 911 dispatchers have been a great asset during the emergency.

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UPDATE, 12:45 p.m.: The Omaha metro area's drinking water remains drinkable, Metropolitan Utilities District reiterated Sunday in a statement. The utility takes water from the Missouri River and from aquifers in the Platte River valley. Both rivers are flooding. In the statement, MUD said its water, which is tested daily, continues to meet all state and federal standards.

Rumors have been swirling about the utility's water and the utility has been issuing statements in an effort to tamp those down.

Omaha, Bellevue, Bennington, Carter Lake, La Vista, Ralston, Waterloo and Fort Calhoun get their water from MUD's treatment plants. The Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District is the conduit for the water going to Fort Calhoun.

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UPDATE, 12:10 p.m.: Valmont Industries, which is located near Valley, Nebraska, will be closed on Monday due to issues related to access to the plant. Decisions about subsequent days will be made day-to-day.

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UPDATE, 11:50 a.m.: A Nebraska National Guard convoy loaded with food and other supplies from Lincoln is expected to arrive Sunday in Fremont between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Mayor Scott Getzschman said the convoy will distribute the supplies to the city's five active shelters. The trucks will roll into town on U.S. Highway 275, which is open now to emergency vehicles only, he said.

"We've stabilized the situation short term, and we are planning for the beginning of the week," Getzschman said. "The teamwork and collaboration of the people of Fremont has been an amazing sight."

Getzschman said the city's shelters have been home to about 450 people during the day, swelling to 800 or 900 at night.

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UPDATE, 11:15 a.m.; By late Saturday on Fremont "island," you couldn’t get bottled water.

Walmart had sold out of all but the kiddie and electric toothbrushes. By 10 p.m., there were only two pairs of rubber boots — men’s, both size 10 — on the shelves. No bananas on the shelves, either.

Hy-Vee still seemed like a horn of plenty, though it, too, had run out of individually bottled water. Worries that Fremont’s municipal water supply would be compromised by the flood had caused a rush. It's fine so far. Both Hy-Vee and Walmart still had ways to fill up water jugs.

“Want five gallons?” the Walmart greeter asked.

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UPDATE, 11:10 a.m.: Saunders County authorities continued a mandatory evacuation Sunday of residents in several lake communities after a levee along the Platte River was breached Saturday.

The levee is about a quarter-mile north of County Road F, said Terry Miller, director of Saunders County emergency management. The breach resulted in flooding of the rural area south of County Road F to Camp Ashland Road and as far west as Nebraska Highway 66, he said.

Communities affected included Big Sandy Lake, Lake Allure, Thomas Lakes and Sandy Pointe Lake.

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UPDATE. 10:30 a.m.: Columbus is no longer an island, but it may be a peninsula, said Mayor Jim Bulkley.

A circuitous route is needed to go south from the Platte County city, Bulkley said. Motorists aiming for Omaha today must go north on U.S. Highway 81 and then west on Nebraska 91.

Vehicles can start heading south at Albion on state or county roads. Motorists will eventually reach Interstate 80 just east of Grand Island.

"It's about a three-hour route for a trip that usually takes an hour," Bulkley said. "You can also go north to Norfolk, but I'm still not sure how you get down to Omaha by going east."

Bulkley said stores in Columbus have been receiving groceries, gas and other supplies via roundabout routes into town since Friday.

"We've been blessed with how we've come through this (flood)," Bulkley said. "I know a lot of people have been hurt but it could've been worse."

When floodwaters do recede, Bulkley said, motorists need to wait for roads to be cleared by the state's Roads Department before using them. Floodwaters have caused damage to roads and bridges that could make them unsafe, he said.

"The Loup River bridge needs to be assessed by the state," Bulkley said. "We're hoping they can make that assessment today."

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UPDATE, 8:45 a.m.: The Elkhorn River has crested at all points in eastern Nebraska, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

The river remains at major flood levels but is expected to be back below its flood stage of 14 feet by Tuesday. The river crested at 24.63 feet Saturday and was down to 22.17 feet near Waterloo at 6:15 a.m. Sunday, according to the weather service.

Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson said deputies reported that the Elkhorn River was receding near Arlington. U.S. Highway 30 reopened on Saturday, and water is in the process of receding from Nebraska Highway 91.

"We want to remind (motorists) not to go around barricades," Robinson said. "They are still subject to arrest and citations if they do."

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UPDATE, 8:20 a.m.: Plattsmouth residents are being urged to conserve tap water, the city's administrator said Sunday.

The city's water treatment and wastewater treatment plants are shut down due to flooding. The city is getting about two-thirds of its daily water from a connection to Cass County Rural Water, Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis said.

"We need to get out the message that even though we have that connection, and thank goodness for Cass County Rural Water, people need to conserve water," Portis said. "People need to find a way to figure out how to use about two-thirds of the water they normally use. This is critical."

One bit of news that might be temporary: The Missouri River has dropped about a foot Sunday morning, Portis said.

"We don't know if that's due to the - break (at Thurman, Iowa) or not," Portis said. "The (Army) Corps of Engineers gauge shows 39 feet and we had 40.5 feet (Saturday)."

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UPDATE, 7:55 a.m.: Offutt Air Force Base announced that only mission-essential personnel should report. The base's clinic, child development center, commissary and gym will keep normal hours. The StratCom gate is closed. The Bellevue gate is opening full-time. The chapel’s protestant service is canceled. Veterinarian services are not available today.

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UPDATE, 6:13 a.m.: Fast-moving water was approaching the town of Thurman, Iowa, early Sunday, the National weather Service in Omaha said.

"This is likely the result of levee breeches in the area," according to a weather service statement. "Evacuation operations were beginning for the town."

At 5:30 a.m., the weather service said many rivers were still experiencing minor to major flooding. While smaller streams are falling, larger main-stem rivers will be above flood for days.

The weather service advised heeding all road closures and evacuation orders.

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