Guard call-up: About 20 members of the Nebraska National Guard are being called to active duty to assist Omaha and Douglas County emergency managers in 24-hour monitoring of Missouri River levees. The Guard said the troops would begin duty Friday.
Shelters: Another American Red Cross shelter has been set up for Nebraska and Iowa victims of Missouri River flooding. The Red Cross said the new one is in southeast Nebraska, at Peru State College in Peru. Another 24-hour Nebraska shelter is at Fort Calhoun High School at Fort Calhoun, north of Omaha. Two 24-hour shelters have been set up in Iowa: at Missouri Valley High School in Missouri Valley and at Sidney High School in Sidney. Other shelters are on standby in Cass, Cedar, Dixon, Douglas, Sarpy and Thurston Counties in Nebraska, and Pottawattamie County in Iowa.
Disaster aid: The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is asking residents to begin estimating the amount of flood damage to their property so the state can prepare a request for federal disaster aid. Residents who have lost employment or had their home or business damaged are asked to contact the state toll free at 855-211-2453 or 855-211-2454. The hotlines will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hotline staff will ask callers whether they rent or own their residence, the level of floodwater damage and whether any job income was lost. People providing information for a business will be asked whether the business is open or closed, and the number of employees affected.
Farm residents affected by flooding are also encouraged to call a NEMA hotline. Damage to other agricultural buildings, equipment and property will be assessed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sandbagging: Because of a strong turnout by volunteers, the City of Omaha is making some adjustments to its sandbagging operations for public and private property.
On Friday through Sunday, sandbagging will continue at Levi Carter Park for two shifts each day, from 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The operation at 18th and Chicago Streets will be temporarily suspended.
The city needs volunteers age 19 and older to fill sandbags. Volunteers should bring a shovel, work gloves, sunscreen and insect repellent, and wear closed-toe shoes. Signup is on site; or for more information, call 211. By the end of the weekend, the city anticipates having 150,000 sandbags on hand. So far, volunteers have logged 2,000 hours, the city said Thursday.
Farmers Market: The Florence Mill Farmers Market will be open its regular hours — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday — at 9102 N. 30th St. Although nearby River Road and the Mormon Bridge are closed, the mill is not. It is offering “Flood Waters 2011,” a photo exhibit and competition documenting the region's historic flood. To enter an 8-by-10 photo, stop at the mill or call 402-551-1233.
On patrol: The Iowa National Guard said its troops are providing levee patrol support in Woodbury, Mills and Pottawattamie Counties.
Shelter: The Red Cross announced it was opening a shelter Thursday night at Neal Hall on the Peru State College campus in Peru, Neb.
Oma-Gro closes: The Oma-Gro composting facility is closed until further notice because the Nebraska Roads Department has closed the primary access road and the Army Corps of Engineers has stopped heavy traffic from crossing the Little Papillion Creek. The road closing affects both sales of compost from the facility and incoming yard waste deliveries. OmaGro will continue to be sold at retail outlets. Yard waste will continue to be collected separately from garbage, but it will be disposed of in the Pheasant Point Landfill.
Relocation incentive: South Dakota homeowners flooded by the Missouri River can get up to $5,000 to move, as long as they move to Clay County. The Vermillion Area Chamber and Economic Development Co. is offering the incentive. Flooded homeowners are eligible for $5,000 if they build a new home in Clay County, $4,000 if they buy a home there valued at $150,000 or more, and $3,000 if they buy a home valued between $100,000 and $149,000. Executive Director Steve Howe said the chamber group wants to provide evacuees a fresh start.
Sandbag lunches: Midtown Crossing's Loft 610 Urban Restaurant and Lounge provided free sandwiches, wraps and other food Thursday to volunteers filling sandbags at Levi Carter Park.
Sandbagging at the Sheriff's Office: The Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office is requesting volunteers to help with sandbagging at the office and corrections facility. “We don't think there will be water at the Sheriff's Office and jail, but you need to be prepared,” Sheriff Jeff Danker said. On Saturday, sandbagging will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheriff's Office, 1400 Big Lake Road. Volunteers are asked to bring their own shovels and gloves.
Farm talk: Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will meet Friday with farmers, ranchers, and others affected by flooding in northeast Nebraska. The roundtable discussion was set for 9:30 a.m. at the Marina Inn, 4th & B Streets, South Sioux City. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, meanwhile, scheduled meetings Friday with residents and community leaders in Council Bluffs, Glenwood, Hamburg and Sidney.
Dakota Dunes: Evacuated residents of the flood-threatened South Dakota community of Dakota Dunes were to be allowed back into their homes to check on their properties. About half of the 2,500 residents of the Missouri River town have been evacuated since June 3. State public safety officials said those residents will be allowed to go back during certain hours through Monday.
Voluntary ban on bicyclists: Pottawattamie County authorities are asking bicyclists to stay off Old Lincoln Highway between Council Bluffs and the Harrison County line. Because of the closing of Interstate 29 between Council Bluffs and the I-29/U.S. 30 interchange at milepost 75 near Missouri Valley, traffic has significantly increased on Old Lincoln Highway. Sheriff Jeff Danker said the road is narrow, carries a 50 mph speed limit and provides very limited areas where passing can be completed safely. He said the voluntary ban would be lifted when the Interstate is reopened.
Boil repaired: Crews stabilized a sand boil on a new levee near the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday. Kim Crispin with the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency said the boil was on a stretch of levee south of U.S. Highway 30 near DeSoto.
THE RUMOR MILL
Rumor: A sand boil is threatening to flood Offutt Air Force Base.
Fact: A sand boil, which occurs when riverwater forces its way under a levee and percolates up on the dry side, has been located near the base — but it's in Mills County, Iowa. Ryan Hansen, an Offutt spokesman, said that sand boil won't affect Offutt, since it's on the other side of the river. Offutt personnel are sandbagging around low-lying buildings on the base's southeast edge, Hansen said. It's a precautionary measure in the unlikely event that a levee breaks near the base, he said.
World-Herald staff writers Kevin Cole, Connie White, Michael Holmes, Matthew Hansen, Joanne Stewart and Sue Story Truax, with the World-Herald News Service and the Associated Press.
Flooding on Highway 2 east of Nebraska City (video by Kyle Benecke):
Trucks submerged near Blair (video by Kyle Benecke):