Severe Flooding Sweeps Northeast Nebraska

by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News

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March 14, 2019, 6 p.m.

Much of northeast Nebraska is under water today. Rising temperatures melted the ample snow on the ground in the region over the last couple days.

Unlike some towns to its north, Ashland is not under an evacuation order. However, some citizens close to Salt Creek are choosing to evacuate as the water reaches their homes.

Chad Yochum is a firefighter for the Ashland Fire Department. He says the Mead Fire Department has been helping out with evacuations Thursday.

Gene Engles (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

“They called, evacuation from a house here on the corner due to the stature of the gentleman. They had him on the truck and couldn’t get him down, so we made something work,” Yokum said.

Yochum says the Platte River is expected to rise until Saturday, and in turn creeks in Ashland are rising as well.

“I think it’s still gonna get worse. Last I heard the Platte River’s gonna crest Saturday. If that’s changed, I don’t know, I haven’t heard. This is all gonna be from Salt Creek at this location,” Yokum said.

Gene Engles lives near Salt Creek. He’s lived in the same house since 2013 and today was the first time his basement flooded.

Flooding behind Gene Engles' home in Ashland. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

“The last time that it flooded the water got up even higher than what it is right now, and we didn’t have any water in the basement at all,” Engles said.

That last flood was in May from torrential rains. This time, Engles had to call a plumber to set up a pump in his basement.

Engles described the progression from nice weather one day to flooding the next.

“Water had collected from the rain. The ball fields you could see them, none of that was under water. And then late last night we noticed that it was starting to come in,” Engles said.

A couple blocks from Engles’ house, Trina McCall is making plans in case the water gets up her house, though it’s not clear if it will.

Trina McCall (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

“I just got off the phone with my landlord and he said that he can’t imagine it, but it’s hard to tell cause it’s way worse than when I left at 7 o’clock this morning,” McCall said.

McCall plans to go stay somewhere else in Ashland if the flood waters rise too high.

“This is bad. I’ve lived around Ashland all my life, well, most of my life, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. I’ve lived here over six years now and this is the worst,” Trina McCall said.

Steve Olsen is a highway maintenance worker with the state of Nebraska. He says flooding was stable and the Department of Roads has to wait it out.

“Basically once the water goes down, the highway will be opened up,” Olsen said.

Flood waters rise near Ashland. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

Some Ashland residents were out and about to check on the level of the flooding in other parts of town.

Mark Vanderslice was one of them. The water hasn’t reached his house, but he’s keeping tabs on the situation, especially because this is an unusual amount of flooding.

“This is the worst, somebody said that this was the worst since 1993. Now if it’s true, I don’t know,” Vanderslice said.

Vanderslice hopes the water won’t reach his home. If he does, he has a plan.

“I guarantee the water gets to my house I’m gonna pack my bags and I’m leaving. Move period. Collect the money and run."

Flooding has led to evacuations and road closures in much of the northeastern part of the state. Farther west, many roads are closed for snow.