Flood season begins in Eastern Nebraska around the 2nd week of February when the threat of ice jam flooding occurs on the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers. River levels can change dramatically with very little notice due to ice jams which can form on the rivers creating a damming affect on the water flow. Persons living along rivers with a history of ice jam flooding should stay alert during this period and be prepared to take immediate emergency action should flash flooding result from the formation of ice jams.
May, June, and July are the wettest months of the season. Heavy wide area downpours of 5 or more inches are not uncommon. Wide area downpours may also result in a flash flood threat along the creeks and tributaries of the major river systems winding their way through Eastern Nebraska such as the Papio Creek basin.
While flash flooding situations result in the rapid rise and fall of river levels, the major rivers such as the Missouri are more susceptible to slowly developing flood conditions. While these types of floods provide the residents with ample warning, they are long lasting events, displacing residents along their banks for weeks to months at a time.
Know what to expect
Know your areas flood risk. If its been raining hard for several hours or steadily for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. Listen to local radio or TV stations. Have a weather radio and monitor river conditions, flood watch, and warning statements.
Know the meaning of a flood WATCH
A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area
Know the meaning of a flood WARNING
A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
The rule for being safe is simple: Head for high ground and stay away from the water! The most dangerous thing you can do is to try to walk, swim, or drive through swift flowing water. Never ever drive through water flowing over a road. Observe road closure signs and barricades. Nothing is more tragic and more senseless than persons killed by flood waters who drive around barricades and into the flood waters.
Reduce potential flood damage
Raise your furnace, hot water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding; if not, find out how to get flood insurance. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies specifically exclude flooding. If flooding is not covered, you will need to obtain separate flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent or County Emergency Management office for more information.
If a flood WATCH is issued, move furniture and valuables to higher floors in your home. Fill your car's gas tank in case an evacuation notice is issued.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
Include items such as a first aid kit, canned food and opener, three gallons of water per person, protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags, battery powered radio, flashlight and spare batteries. If you have infants, elderly or disabled family members, be sure to include any special items they need such as infant formula, etc.
Identify where you will go if told to evacuate
Choose several places such as with another family member, friends, a motel, or if necessary, a shelter.
When a flash flood WARNING is issued - or
If you think a flash flood is occurring in your area, evacuate immediately. Move to higher ground and do not drive around barricades. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
Help is available
If a flood happens in our community, you can count on the American Red Cross to be here to help you and your family.