Floodwaters that have caused widespread devastation and killed as many as six people in Colorado will be flowing into Nebraska as early as tomorrow morning.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency has been warning residents along the South Platte River to move property and livestock away from the river.
Flooding has devastated 15 counties in Colorado. The National Guard has been activated to help find more than 1,200 people who are unaccounted for.
Jodie Fawl with NEMA says floodwaters are expected to reach Julesburg, CO at the Nebraska border tomorrow morning, then begin flowing into western Nebraska.
The drought the last couple of years could make matters worse. The South Platte has receded during the dry years. Brush and debris have settled where water once was.
Fawl says that could cause problems.
“And, I think that’s a concern that debris that would come up as fast moving water comes through there, which makes the flooding worse,” Fawl tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We might give you an expected amount of water in a certain area, but then the debris might make it go outside the channel; there are just a lot of variables.”
Officials at NEMA have been busy constructing models to estimate the amount of water Nebraska will receive and how devastating it might be. They are hampered by the fact that the floodwaters have taken out rain gauges on bridges in many parts of Colorado.
Fawl says NEMA urges residents to remove property and livestock from the area. They also should stay clear of the South Platte River.
“Just remember that that water’s fast, could be very fast and come on quickly and we just want to make sure that everybody stays safe.”
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency has released some flooding safety tips:
· Keep informed. Listen to the television or radio or search the Internet for information and instructions.
· Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
· If instructed to do so, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.
· Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are standing in water.
· Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
· Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
· Health officials urge you to avoid flood waters, even if they look safe. Water can contain sewage, debris, bacteria and other items.