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Nebraska Officials Continue Work As Flood Worries Ease

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Platte River (credit: CBS)

Platte River (credit: CBS)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Emergency crews continued to work along the Platte River on Saturday as flood waters from Colorado swept through Nebraska.

State and local officials kept watch on the area after several close calls overnight, including a surge that nearly forced the evacuation of 20 people in the town of Hershey.

The river broke through its northern bank and flowed into the southeast part of town, but flood berms and sandbags helped keep the water from damaging homes, said Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Dan Guenther.

Guenther credited early warnings about the flood and the state for providing sandbags, because local officials in Lincoln County didn’t have enough.

“We’re sitting pretty well right now,” Guenther said Saturday. “We had a couple of exciting moments between 11:30 last night and 1 o’clock this morning, but everything held.”

The river at North Platte peaked at 13.9 feet on Saturday, nearly 1 foot above flood stage. State and local crews spent part of Saturday sandbagging storm drains that had backed up with water, but Guenther said the flood had caused no other major problems.

The river flooded a local golf course and forced one street to close, but the town saw no significant flood damage, said Cory Martin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in North Platte.

Martin said the river is expected to remain above flood stage until at least Monday.

“That’s just how much water is coming through,” he said.

The flood comes little more than a year after western and central Nebraska faced an extreme drought and wildfires that burned city-sized swaths of land.

“We’ve gone from one extreme to the other,” Guenther said. “At least this time, we didn’t have fires.”

To the east, officials in Kearney were distributing information to Buffalo County residents who live and work along the river. The Platte was expected to crest at 6.7 feet by Thursday morning, roughly half a foot above flood stage, said Buffalo County Emergency Management Director Darrin Lewis.

Lewis said he wasn’t expecting the flood to have much effect on Kearney, which has seen higher river levels in years past. The water could flood some access roads and low-lying farmland, he said, but the river bed at Kearney was virtually empty as of Saturday.

Lewis said previous floods in Kearney have originated in the North Platte River, which is dammed at Lake McConaughy. This time, he said, officials face a “wall of water” from the South Platte, which has no dams in Nebraska.

“In my 10 years, we haven’t ever seen a wall of water like this that’s uncontrollable,” he said.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

- By GRANT SCHULTE, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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