Flooding following a “bomb cyclone” which unleashed blizzard conditions on the Midwestern US has killed three people in Nebraska and Iowa. Now roads to a nuclear power plant have been cut and a significant area of a major US Air Force base has been inundated. Now more of the region’s residents face the possibility of evacuation.
The floods have caused each state’s governor to declare a state of emergency, are the result of last week’s “bomb cyclone” winter storm, which blew in from the western Rocky Mountains.
At least one person was missing after hundreds of rescues across the weekend.
Floodwaters have forced the operators of the Cooper nuclear plant, near Brownville, Nebraska, to fly in staff and supplies by helicopter as roads were cut off by rising water.
Also in Nebraska, one-third of the Offutt Air Force Base, near Bellevue, which is home to the US Strategic Command has been cut off.
The nuclear plant continued to operate safely and was at full power, its operator said.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has reported some of the region’s larger rivers were running at record high levels, causing levee breaks.
Some small towns and communities have been cut off by floods and others have found themselves running out of fresh drinking water.
Stunning aerial photos show streets in Lincoln, Nebraska, which were barely visible as high water surrounded homes, cars and trees.
Elsewhere in the state, one highway near Waterloo was submerged, and piles of debris and damaged roads were visible in Niobrara.
Floodwater has climbed up the sides of buildings at Camp Ashland, an Army National Guard facility in Ashland, Nebraska.
The NWS reported that temperatures across the hardest-hit areas will reach above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C) through midweek.
The weather service said increased temperatures would speed the pace of snow melting across the region adding yet more water to already swollen rivers.
This could possibly force more evacuations in communities along the Missouri River on the Nebraska and Iowa border, as well as along the Elkhorn and Platte rivers in Nebraska.
NWS meteorologist Jim Hayes said: “There could be issues across portions of Nebraska and Kansas for the next seven days.”
The Missouri River was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.48 m) on Tuesday, breaking the previous record in 2011 by more than one foot, according to Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The Elkhorn River crested at 24.6 feet on Saturday, breaking its previous record in 1962 by 5.5 feet.
NEMA reported on Sunday that more than 600 Nebraska residents were evacuated and taken to American Red Cross-operated shelters.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who declared a statewide emergency last week, said on Monday that emergency officials have rescued at least 300 people but that at least one person was missing.
At Offutt Air Force Base, 30 buildings had been flooded by up to eight feet of water and 30 more structures had been damaged, according to reports by the Omaha World-Herald, citing a base spokeswoman.
The weather was blamed for three deaths, including one person who died at home after failing to evacuate, and a man swept away while trying to tow a trapped car with his tractor.
In Iowa, one man died after he was submerged in floodwater on Friday in Riverton, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.