Emergency Preparedness and Planning

Emergency Preparedness and Planning


Emergency Preparedness and Planning, Valuable Partnerships and Diversified Funding Equal Public Safety

Each late winter or early spring Nebraska's Platte River presents challenges to those tasked with protecting lives and property from flooding due to ice jams. Serious flooding along portions of the river bordering the counties of Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders has occurred many times and this reach of the river is historically among the most flood prone areas in our state. In 1993, 18,000 acres of cropland was flooded, Interstate 80 was closed for nearly 2 days, Highway 6 was closed for months, BNSF Railroad was heavily damaged and the City of Lincoln Water System suffered severe damage losing one of two major supply lines for the community. Flood damages were estimated at $ 14 million.

Platte River ice conditions this year mirrored conditions in 1993 and again in 1997 that resulted in flooding that closed Interstate 80 between Omaha and Lincoln for a time and threatened well fields for MUD and the Lincoln well system. This year, excellent coordination between emergency management personnel, Corps of Engineers and three Natural Resources Districts, coupled with timely ice jam breakups and a greatly improved levee system, potentially destructive conditions resulted in only minor lowland flooding.

Of critical importance this year was the performance of the Western Sarpy/Clear Creek Levee along a 20-mile stretch of the Platte upstream of Nebraska Highway 6 on both sides of the river. Improvements to this levee began 15 years ago and will be completed this year thanks to federal funding authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 2014. A special thank you to Senator Deb Fischer, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and former representative Lee Terry for their leadership and diligence in securing the final piece of federal funding, which was absolutely instrumental, to finish construction of this vital piece of public safety infrastructure.

The combination of State of Nebraska Resource Development Funds, Federal funds, local and county resources, as well as, the utilization of NRD bonding authority allowed this project to be completed in time to divert a disaster similar to 1993 and to protect hundreds of millions of dollars in property and more importantly the lives of our constituents. This is a great example of governmental cooperation at all levels working hand in hand to achieve a common goal of public safety.

By John Winkler
General Manager
Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District

jwinkler [at] 

Emmett J Egr, APR
Information/Education Coordinator
Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District
8901 S 154th St, Omaha, NE 68138
eegr [at]