Historic floodwaters have besieged Nebraska following this week's "Bomb Cyclone" weather event, leaving areas in and around Omaha and Belleville, Nebraska, completely underwater — and the waters show no sign of receding any time soon.
Few news organizations outside the state have been documenting the flood and subsequent levee breaches, which have left Nebraskans struggling to save their homes and farms from floodwaters reaching up to seven feet higher than they've ever been.
Reuters reports that the floods are the direct result of the "Bomb Cyclone," a "winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours." Between the Bomb Cyclone's snow and rain, the Missouri River rose dramatically, and isn't expected to officially crest until the early hours of Tuesday morning.
In Fremont, Nebraska, residents remain stranded, according to local news sources. Roads and bridges are washed out and emergency responders are furiously raising sand-bag walls in the hopes of saving homes from the rising Platte River after two levees, meant to keep the river at bay, failed completely.
Near Lincoln, roads and highways are washed out, Omaha.com reports.
"A quarter-mile section of U.S. 281 was washed out just south of the bridge over the Niobrara River," according to the local outlet. "At the Allen ranch, floodwaters 4 to 5 feet deep inundated pastures and livestock pens," he said, "tipping over stock trailers, flowing into farm sheds and tractors, and scattering cattle."
"I've never seen anything close to this," one rancher told reporters. "I've seen water come within a foot of coming over the banks of the river, but never anything like this. Never."
A third of Nebraskans are affected by the flood, reports added. Two people have died.
Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts toured the flood-ravaged areas yesterday with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who documented the shocking scenes for social media. Sasse's own Fremont, Nebraska home, the senator said, is among those under water.
historic weather events in Nebraska this week: blizzards and now massive flooding. Dozens of communities have been completely evacuated, displacing thousands.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
This is our National Guard dropping giant sandbags to build an island around a pump house—> pic.twitter.com/AeBKAsq1rK
(water in every direction) pic.twitter.com/DSj97ka5Ca— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
This is the town of Valley.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
(The @nenationguard @GovRicketts and I are checking what resources emergency personnel and Nebraskans need in these tragically flooded communities) pic.twitter.com/TSYjMtAIfv
there used to be a gas station here — until Wednesday pic.twitter.com/TW0jbNaYck— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
this is Highway 12, heading west. The next bridge just went away, down river pic.twitter.com/B27TiKpr9P— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
In some places where the floodwaters have receded, huge chunks of ice are blocking major streets and highways, washed into huge piles by the rising rivers. In other places, similar masses of ice flowing with the floodwaters destroyed buildings, knocked down walls and left bridges impassible.
Even in places where bridges remain, they’re impassable because of the ice chunks—> pic.twitter.com/WyITwjx0bl— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
this was a storefront—> pic.twitter.com/GtLXJ3deYe— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) March 16, 2019
Rescue efforts are underway. Much of the eastern half of the state is under voluntary evacuation orders and the Red Cross is housing residents in temporary shelters.
Ricketts told reporters on Saturday that he is in contact with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and that both are concerned about the situation on the ground. The president tweeted his support for Nebraskans on Saturday.
"Just spoke w/ @GovRicketts. The people of Nebraska & across the Midwest, especially the Farmers & Ranchers, are feeling the impacts from severe weather. The first responders & emergency response teams have done a great job dealing w/ record flooding, high winds, & road closures," Trump said on social media.
The president or the vice president is expected to tour the flooded areas later this week.