No Potential Threat For Ice Jam Flooding Along The Platte

By: Melina Matthes

FREMONT (kptm) - The Platte River is frozen over and when that has happened in the past, it has many times meant bad flooding for those living near it.

Could it happen this spring?

Today, Fox 42 News went out with the crews that drill the ice and experts say residents in the area have little to worry about in the coming weeks.

The NRD or Natural Resources District regularly monitors the Platte River. Crews check the thickness of the ice and the depth of the water underneath. They say this year there's a lower threat for potential ice jam flooding. "I feel really good about it right now, I really do. I think we've got a very good chance of getting out of here without any major flooding and I'm hopeful there's not going to be any lowland flooding within the bounds of the dyke and the river," area director, Rich Tesar said.

He said crews drilling the ice found that it had thickened over the last week. It's currently about a foot thick.

He said when they find ice that's 20 inches or more they start to worry.

Ted Bailey has lived next to the river for two decades. He said his house has flooded more times than he can count. "One time the water come in real quick but it was clean water. Came in and went...jam broke and back out it went and all I did was just open the doors and let the place dry out. There was no mud nothing, clear water. Other times it's a mess, have to replace the carpet and everything," he said.

Bailey said any ice makes him nervous, but it's not how thick it is that worries him. It's how it breaks up when it thaws. "You got a small jam down below and a lot of ice coming and if it don't tear that jam apart well then it builds a bigger jam and that's when we have a major problem...and I don't want a major problem."

While crews with the NRD said they don't foresee a major problem. Bailey said his faith isn't very high in their flood prediction. "Lord only knows that. I don't think there's a human being alive that can tell you if it's going to flood or its not."

While officials with the NRD said there's little threat of potential ice jam flooding this spring, they said they would regularly monitor the river.

They will also stay in touch with local and state emergency management agencies as well as landowners that live along the river just in case something does happen.

NRD officials said they think the river will open up around the first of March.

At this time there are no plans to break up the ice manually. Dynamite has been used to do that in the past, but they said a contractor is on standby just in case.