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Nebraska Panhandle flooding spurs travel warnings


Daniel Thompson / Western Nebraska Observer

Just a mile north of Highway 30, flooding washed out County Road 47 in Kimball County. Warnings were issued to stay off rural roads in Kimball County this week after warmer temperatures caused snow melt to cover many of the routes.

KIMBALL, Neb. (AP) - Local flooding and washed-out roads have prompted travel warnings from officials in Kimball County and other parts of the Nebraska Panhandle.

Kimble County highway superintendent Dave Hottell blamed the mess on runoff from melting snow in his county and adjacent parts of Wyoming.

"Most of the roads are a mess," Hottell said. "Roughly half of them are washed out and the other half are not in good shape."

Some stretches of U.S. Highway 30 have been closed as well. Two teenage girls were rescued Wednesday afternoon from the top of a vehicle that had stalled while trying to cross a water-covered road near Bushnell.

County workers have been keeping an eye on rural bridges as streams rise. Lodgepole Creek, which had been dry in recent years, has overflowed with runoff from Wyoming and a large snowfall in the area on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 - a total of about 16 inches over the two days.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a Lodgepole Creek gauge earlier this week recorded its highest flows in more than 30 years.

The creek flows into Oliver Reservoir, which sits about three miles east of Bushnell. Rod Horn, general manager at the South Platte Natural Resources District, said the reservoir has gone from about 20 percent full to almost full, thanks to the snowmelt.

In some areas of the county, Hottell said, the water-covered roads have isolated homes.

"Some of the old-timers say this is the worst flooding the area has seen since the early '60s," he said.

Banner County and Sioux County officials have issued travel advisories for their county roads, too.

Cheyenne County Sheriff John Jenson reported Thursday that water was covering some rural roads in the northwest side of his southern Panhandle county.

The National Weather Service said the North Platte River was nearing flood stage near Lewellen in Garden County.


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