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Total ice jam forms on Platte River near Gibbon

Total ice jam forms on Platte River near Gibbon

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GIBBON — A total ice jam has formed north of Gibbon, Nebraska on the Platte River. David Carr, Central Platte Natural Resources District, said the channel of the river is backed up and causing minor lowland flooding.

With the cold winter season, we will begin seeing ice formation in the Platte River channels.  Colder temperatures in the near term are going to lead to ice formation in the next few weeks.  Rivers are running above normal flows this year due to higher precipitation.  If enough ice forms, it can jam together, causing the river water to escape the banks and cause flooding.    Below is some helpful information.

Once ice completely clogs a waterway, the water can back up quickly. It can occur any time, day or night. If you live near a river channel with ice, be constantly aware of the level of the water, and amount of ice. Be prepared to evacuate.

Ice jams can occur from December - March.  Although they can occur whenever the weather is cold enough; historically most 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.

Whenever there are flowing floodwaters, roads and bridges can be washed away quickly.  It is important to remember that even if water looks shallow, do not drive into flooded, or potentially washed out areas.  Floodwaters and wash-outs can be deceptively deep and people have been trapped in their vehicles and/or drowned when trying to cross flooded or washed out areas.

It pays to be prepared. The following information is adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency website regarding disaster preparedness: www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

Steps to Get Ready for Ice Jam Flooding:

-Start a 24-hour watch to keep regular observation on the ice/water.

-Develop a calling tree of neighbors to notify if a flood emergency begins so everyone can get out.

-Call 911

-Identify backup escape routes and methods if the main driveway is flooded.

-Make a Safety Kit: water, flashlights, batteries, backup cell phone charging system, food, blankets, tools to shut utilities off, dry clothes.

-Rendezvous plan if flood occurs while family is separated.  A designated third-party number to call to check in and a common place to meet.

For more information on current flood conditions you may contact Darrin Lewis, Buffalo County Emergency Manager at (308) 233-3225 or em@buffalocounty.ne.gov.  A directory of all county emergency managers may be found at: https://nema.nebraska.gov/overview/county-emergency-management-directorscoordinators

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