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Floodwaters moving through Wood River, Nebraska

Floodwaters moving through Wood River, Nebraska

The flooding won’t quit.

Even as river flooding began to recede in places like Kearney, streams continued to rise elsewhere in central Nebraska Thursday, and there was a new threat — a rising water table.

“We’ve got groundwater coming up, and we’ve got places in danger because of that,” said Darrin Lewis, emergency manager for Buffalo County. A subdivision a couple of miles from the Platte River began to take on water Thursday and another hotel in Kearney was threatened, both most likely due to groundwater, he said.

Even as fresh flooding occurs, cleanup and recovery has begun in Kearney and other communities that took on water.

Elsewhere, the flood-engorged Wood River continued to cause problems.

A significant portion of Gibbon, population 1,900, has flooded from the Wood River, said Trista Cress, second assistant fire chief for the volunteer fire department.

The water has begun to recede, but it’s still too early to fully assess damage, she said. Cress estimated that 90 % of the north side of Gibbon sustained damage and about 40 % of the south side did.

“It’s ugly. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” she said. Some homes have collapsed basements, others have sewage in the basements. “The damage is pretty widespread.”

The good news? The main business district was spared, and by Friday afternoon, the river is forecast to drop below the level that floods the community.

To the east of Gibbon, the community of Wood River, population 1,350, the Wood River Fire & Rescue Department reported Friday morning that floodwaters rose about 2 inches overnight and probably would continue to rise a little. In Shelton, which is southwest of Wood River, the water was down about 3 inches.

"This is all a good sign" that the worst most likely is over, department officials said on Facebook. "We will continue to monitor water. Hopefully by this afternoon we can give you all the go ahead to start taking down the barriers."

The city still was asking residents to limit water and sewer usage.​

Workers and volunteers erected a temporary levee, enlarged drainage ditches and sandbagged around buildings. Their goal: Channel the water away from buildings.

“So far, so good,” said Mindy Osterman, emergency management coordinator for Hall County, said Thursday.


“We’re hoping enough sandbagging and other preparations have been done to minimize the damage,” said Jon Rosenlund, emergency management director for Hall County.

The flooding is the result of extraordinary rainfall Monday night into Tuesday, when many areas received 6 to 10 inches.

Along the Republican River, Harlan Reservoir is doing its job by holding back floodwater, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The reservoir has exceeded its previous record height, set in 1960, by about a half-foot or so, according to the corps.

World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report., 402-444-1272

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email:

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