A state of emergency has been declared in Nebraska after heavy rains and melting snow caused history flooding throughout the state. Governor Pete Ricketts declared the state of emergency in order to allow access to relief funds and other resources. There has been at least one flood-related death reported, after one man was swept away by floodwaters.
Bryan Tuma, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency told Omaha World Herald that a farmer was driving a tractor to help a motorist who was stuck in the rising waters when he was suddenly swept away and killed.
There has been evacuation across multiple eastern Nebraska towns, as well as at least one town in Iowa.
According to the Lincoln State Journal, there have been thousands of residents asked to leave their homes as floods worsen.
The flooding is a result of a powerful winter storm, dubbed a “bomb cyclone” which has left blizzards, floods and tornadoes in its wake as it tracked across the US Mountain and Plains states this week.
Thirteen tornadoes were reported in Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan on Thursday according to Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
However, none of the thirteen tornadoes was reported to have caused serious damage.
Dangerous flooding caused a dramatic rescue on Thursday, which saw emergency crew members saved by a National Guard helicopter after their boat capsized.
The seven first responders were travelling along the Elkhorn River to assist a family trapped in their home when they capsized.
It has now pushed eastwards into the Midwest and the Great Lakes Region as of early Friday local time.
Persistent heavy rain from the severe storm falling on snowy and icy ground has caused rivers to swell and dangerous floodwaters to rise.
This is impacting Nebraska, Wisconsin and other Midwestern States, whilst North Dakota faces severe winds and snow.
Forecasters predict that flooding could last well into the weekend, with several highways becoming impassible in Wisconsin, and farmers worry that livestock would drown.
Meteorologist Paul Fajman said: “With the frozen ground and amount of rain our area had, it was just a perfect set of circumstances that led to the flooding we’re seeing in Nebraska and Iowa.”
According to News Channel Nebraska, the Mormon Creek Bridge was completely washed away by the Niobrara River on Thursday morning.
Residents who lived along the Niobrara were then urged to evacuate as the Spencer Dam failed.
Flood waters have also destroyed and washed away Nebraska Department of Transportation buildings and equipment say News Channel Nebraska.