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Major ice jam along Platte River begins breaking free

6 News was able to get a look at the jam from above Sunday, boarding Civic Air Patrol plane
Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 10:43 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Flooding caused by a major ice jam along the Platte River near Schuyler, Nebraska is holding steady.

6 News was able to get a look at the jam from above Sunday, boarding a plane with Civic Air Patrol Cpt. Roland Buchta.

“Today the objective is to take the plane up, we’re going to stay pretty low, we’re going to hover around 1000 feet above ground level,” said Cpt. Buchta. “That way you’ll be able to tell everything on the ground; you’re going to be able to see the detail.”

The flight took off from the airport in Millard heading northwest toward Schuyler, where Highway 15 crosses the Platter River bridge, where the ice jam was starting to break up.

Colfax County Emergency Management told 6 News Sunday, rising temperatures helped a channel open up over the weekend allowing the river to start flowing more freely.

“Last night we heard a large -- it sounded like a bomb going off -- it was just a large boom,” said Michelle Evert, deputy emergency manager in Colfax County. “We had a five-foot chunk of ice break off and it kind of hit the bridge a little bit, it didn’t do any damage -- that’s just what happens when it hits.”

Evert and other local officials were keeping a close eye on the river over the weekend, as temperatures rose.

“I was on the river bridge earlier and we have a channel open on the north side of the bridge and the south side so that’s a good thing because now water’s flowing,” said Evert, noting while there’s relief to see some melting, there’s still a long way to go.

“We do still have a large ice jam about half a mile up, but there’s water flowing underneath it -- so I’m hoping with that and the sun and tomorrow’s warmer temperatures it will just slowly start breaking away,” said Evert.

Meanwhile, a handful of roads remain closed.

“We have some county roads that are flooded under yet that we have blocked off. We have Highway 15 that the state has blocked off there’s water running over that,” said Evert, noting, fortunately, water’s staying out homes.

“We had some people just leave, but now they’re coming back to their homes - we haven’t had to do any evacuation orders,” said Evert, hopeful the worst of it is over and warmer days ahead.

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