Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Landowners along Platte River urged to prepare for ice jams

Landowners who live along the Platte River need to be prepared for the risk of flooding, said David Carr, CPNRD range management specialist.

During the cold winter, and early spring months, ice begins to form in the river. When there is enough ice, it will “jam” up the river and create blockages to the water flow. This forces the water out of its banks and creates a flood. Ice jams frequently occur with changing temperatures such as a hard freeze followed by a quick thaw. 

Carr said river flows are predicted to be above average this winter, so flood potential does exist. Below are some things to consider regarding ice jams if you live near the Platte River.

1. Ice Jam flooding can occur quickly. In just a matter of hours, the channels can become clogged and flooding can occur.  Once ice begins to clog a waterway, the water can back up quickly. If you live near a channel with ice, be constantly aware of the level of the water. Be prepared to evacuate.

2. Ice Jams can occur from December-March. Although ice jams can occur whenever the weather is cold enough; historically most ice jams form in January, February, and March according to a January 1996 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report titled: Ice Jam Flooding and Mitigation, Lower Platte River Basin, Nebraska.

3. Flood waters can be deep. Whenever there are rushing floodwaters, roads and bridges can be washed away quickly. It is nearly impossible to tell how deep the water is. Even though it looks shallow do not drive into flooded, potentially washed out areas. People have been trapped in their vehicles and/or drowned when trying to cross moving flood waters.

4. It pays to be prepared. The following information is adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency website regarding disaster preparedness:

5. Build A Kit: Assemble enough emergency supplies for at least three days:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation food, and at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Cell Phone with charger, inverter, or solar charger.

6. Make A Plan: Pick a friend to call if you get separated from family.

Know where to meet.

Make a list of important information, emergency phone numbers.

Make a plan to evacuate.

Talk with your family.

Practice your plan.

7. Be Informed About What Might Happen: Learn about the types of emergencies most likely to affect your community.

Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances.

Make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities.