Flooding to put crimp in riverside holiday plans

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Authorities say the Elkhorn River is off limits. High water levels and floating debris make it too dangerous for people trying to get out on the water this Memorial Day weekend.

Only one river landing is open on the Elkhorn.

If you're heading out this weekend you're going to see closed gates on the river. Experts say the Elkhorn is flowing at more than twice the speed it was moving before the flood.

The NRD says canoeing or tubing in a fast flowing river could be dangerous to turn around in or go upstream but that’s not the only concern.

Authorities say floodwaters took out most of the Elkhorn’s sand bottom. Places that used to be three feet deep are now 10 feet or deeper. And if that’s not concerning enough they say large pieces of debris. Like trunks of trees, are still floating down stream.

Rich Tesar, with the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District, said, “The river may look entirely safe but the fact is, it's a lot deeper and swifter. We're going to have law enforcement - will be ticketing, anybody tying to enter our properties or exiting our properties.”

With the exception of the Platte Landing, river landings are closed up and down the Elkhorn.

If your weekend plans involve water, officials say use caution.

River West Park sits right on the Elkhorn and manager Bill Novka said, “Ten weeks ago today the flood level came up to where this blue line is,” in pointing out the high water extreme. He said they’re usually packed on Memorial Day weekend but the flooding changed things. It has taken time to get the RV and tent camping ready.

“Normally this time of year, this weekend, this place would be sold out. But we suppressed our reservations.”

This holiday weekend their tubing excursion is not an option. “The water level is unsafe right now for anybody doing it on their own.”

Tesar said, “We're disappointed too. We wanted to be open.”

He hopes all of the access points to the Elkhorn will be open by July 1.

Authorities are telling people to use the lakes this holiday weekend instead.