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Flooding hit Nebraska hard one year ago: Here's what happened on March 14 last year

Flooding hit Nebraska hard one year ago: Here's what happened on March 14 last year

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On this day — March 14, 2019

It becomes clear that the warnings of widespread, destructive flooding are coming true after 1-3 inches of rain fall on frozen grounds and rivers. Northeast Nebraska is hit hard — bridges wash out and the Spencer Dam collapses, releasing a surge of ice chunks. Three people die after being swept away by floodwaters.

  • At 1:58 a.m., a 911 caller alerts the Nance County Sheriff’s Office that a bridge on Nebraska Highway 39 over the Loup River in Genoa is out. The deck of the 120-foot-long bridge collapsed at both ends. The missing bridge sends drivers on lengthy detours and effectively separates the students and staff of the Twin River Public Schools.
  • In northeast Nebraska, huge ice blocks and gushing water from the Niobrara River lead to the collapse of the Spencer Dam in the early morning. Kenny Angel, who was living near the dam, goes missing. His body has not been found.
  • In the aftermath of the dam failure, the Mormon Canal bridge over the Niobrara River on Nebraska Highway 12 at Niobrara is washed away, and the approach to a bridge on U.S. Highway 281 in Spencer is washed out. The water line for much of Boyd County is damaged, leaving residents without running water.
  • In Norfolk, Scott Goodman, 30, is last seen stranded on top of his car amid flooding. His body has not been found. On his tractor, 50-year-old Columbus farmer James Wilke dies while trying to rescue a motorist. He falls into the flooded Shell Creek.
  • Norfolk begins evacuating one-third of the city that morning.
  • It becomes clear that multiple levees are in trouble, including the Union Dike near Fremont and the levee protecting an Omaha wastewater treatment plant.
  • The State Patrol calls Pierce County at 8:20 p.m. to say the Nebraska Highway 13 bridge over the Elkhorn River near Hadar had collapsed. Over the next several days, a total of 13 state bridges collapse or are damaged enough to require major repairs.
  • In Iowa, Interstate 29 and Interstate 680 north of Council Bluffs close.
  • Sixteen temporary shelters open in Nebraska to take in evacuees.

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Reporter - Education

Erin is an enterprise reporter for the World-Herald. Previously, Erin covered education. Follow her on Twitter @eduff88. Phone: 402-444-1210.

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