WOOD RIVER, Neb. (KGFW / AP) – More communities in south-central Nebraska are bracing for floodwaters that could spill from the rain-swollen Wood River.
Floodwater already has covered several streets in Gibbon, and flooding also has been forecast for communities downriver to the east: Shelton, Wood River and Alda.
The National Weather Service in Hastings says that, as of last night, the Wood River at Gibbon was 16.3-feet and expected to fall this evening and be below flood stage by Saturday morning. The river was not flooding at Shelton and diversions appear to be working in the community of Wood River. The river at Alda is expected to cross flood stage this morning and reach major flood this evening until late Sunday evening before falling.
Mindy Osterman is emergency management coordinator for Hall County, and she says officials have sandbagged “and done everything they absolutely can” to avoid or at least limit flood damage.
Warnings were issued after up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain fell during storms that struck Buffalo, Dawson, Frontier, Gosper, Kearney and Phelps counties overnight Monday. Floodwater entered several communities, including Kearney, where several people were stranded in their homes or vehicles. One woman died Wednesday after water swept away her vehicle and rolled it over in Cozad.
The University of Nebraska Kearney opened one of its dorms for temporary shelter for those displaced by flooding. UNK Senior Communications Director Todd Gottula says about 75% of those are travelers who were staying in hotels and are now in need of alternative transportation as many vehicles were lost. The rest are local residents who now need something more permanent. UNK is working to help as many as they can. Gottula also says the time for donations, at least at UNK, has passed and if any more are needed they’ll let the community know.
The Kearney Visitors Bureau reports there are over 600 hotel rooms available which were not affected by flooding. Numerous businesses and restaurants have reopened.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.