If there was a place in Northeast and North Central Nebraska not affected by flooding by Thursday morning, it would have been the lucky exception to the rule.
From people being evacuated in towns to road, business and school closures, thousands of people had their lives and daily routines disrupted.
There also may have been one life lost as Norfolk officials confirmed that a person was missing after apparently falling into the North Fork flood control channel early Thursday.
Shortly before 9 a.m., the City of Norfolk issued a warning that there was no access into or out of Norfolk on Highway 275 east of Norfolk.
In addition, parts of Highway 81 around Norfolk and elsewhere were closed, isolating communities like Pierce and many other cities on Thursday.
North Central Nebraska hasn’t been spared the effects of this week’s historic flooding, notably the Spencer dam located on the Niobrara River.
A deputy with the Holt County Sheriff’s office in O’Neill confirmed that there has been a partial failure of the dam due to the high water levels.
The flood waters also have caused what appears to be structural damage to one of the nearby bridges over Highway 281. That area has been closed for traffic, the deputy said.
An assessment of a second bridge over Highway 281 was being conducted Thursday morning to determine its status.
“The bridges aren’t out, but there’s been damage,” the deputy said.
Evacuation of rural residents in low-lying areas near the dam and bridges was taking place Thursday morning.
Elsewhere, the American Red Cross has opened three shelters in Nebraska to assist those who have been displaced from their homes due to flooding and blizzard conditions in the area.
The shelters were in Norfolk at Lutheran High Northeast, 2010 N. 37th St., the Randolph City Auditorium, 119 N. Main St., and North Loup at the North Loup Community Center.
Red Cross volunteers were on hand to provide a safe place to stay, a place to sleep, a hot meal and referrals to community services.
The shelters will remain open as long as necessary. The Red Cross is working closely with local emergency management officials to coordinate relief services.
Liz Wallace, Norfolk’s corporate communications manager, asked people to not travel to the area or around the flood control levee of the North Fork. In addition, South First Street, for example, is closed from Jackson Avenue to Sherwood Avenue.
“We are getting a lot of traffic at the Omaha Avenue/East 275 parking lot access point. We cannot emphasize enough that people need to stay off and away from the levee,” Wallace said. “It is extremely dangerous right now. The city is engaging in critical activities to control flooding within the levee.”
West of Norfolk, Highway 275 was closed from Meadow Grove to Neligh on Wednesday and remained so at least early Thursday.
The Highway 81 and Highway 32 intersection in Madison to Humphrey is closed.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office reported road closures in all parts of the county. The county ran out of barricades and began to use flags on Wednesday as a way to alert motorists.
In addition, Battle Creek was flooding into town on the west side. Also in Battle Creek, Second and Jackson was flooded and McAllister Street flooded. The Jackson Street Bridge in Battle Creek was flooded.
Calls to many area counties seeking additional information went unanswered or those answering said nobody was available to talk to the media because officials were out working with flood-related issues.
HARTINGTON — Melting snow coupled with rain has created flooding in many parts of Cedar County.
Kevin Garvin, Cedar County Emergency Management director, and Robert Hamilton, chief deputy director, issued a release late Wednesday afternoon indicating that residents are advised not to travel on rural Cedar County roadways.
Flooding continues to cause water to run over multiple roadways. In many cases, damage to the roadway will be hidden by the water and not obvious to motorists until it is too late.
Garvin said crews are continuing to inspect roads and bridges for damage where possible in rural Cedar County. It has also run out of barricades because of all the road closures.
Not all damaged roads have been barricaded, so travel on these roads remains dangerous and is not recommended now.
Parts of town evacuated
RANDOLPH — Residents in low-lying areas of Randolph were asked to evacuate on Wednesday.
Kevin Garvin, Cedar County emergency management director, and Robert Hamilton, issued a release early Wednesday afternoon that indicated areas affected are residents living along Hughson, Wayne, Park and Walden streets in addition to other low lying parts of town already experiencing flooding.
Residents in these areas are being asked to report to the Randolph City Auditorium.
Cedar County has received multiple reports of water over the road on state highways and county roads, making traveling hazardous in many parts of the county. Motorists are asked to slow down and use caution if they are traveling.
Many county roads are closed Wednesday because of water over the road.