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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts, State Agencies Urge Caution as Severe Weather, Flooding Continues

For Immediate Release:

6:35PM CT on March 13, 2019


Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Eric Maher, 402-471-1974


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts, State Agencies Urge Caution as Severe Weather, Flooding Continues


Gov. Ricketts and agency directors provide an update on the state’s response to the weather and flooding. Declaration here. Video here.


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and state agencies provided an update on the significant weather events and flooding that are impacting the State of Nebraska.


“Snow and rain continue to have a significant impact on our state, and many communities are already experiencing flooding,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Nebraskans should watch the weather and waterways in their communities closely in the coming days, and be prepared for historic levels of flooding even if it has not hit their community yet.  As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared.”


Following an emergency declaration on Tuesday evening, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has opened the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC) in response to the weather-related hazardous conditions currently affecting the state.


NEMA officials and partner agencies are monitoring conditions, fielding calls from citizens and community partners, and providing information and resources to keep citizens safe.  NEMA staff and partners began working 24-hours-a-day in the SEOC at 1:30 p.m.  The SEOC will remain open as needed.  NEMA is tracking conditions across the state, responding to requests for assistance from local emergency managers, and developing a common operating picture to keep local officials aware of the situation.


The SEOC is staffed by officials from NEMA, the State Patrol, Department of Health and Human Services, Fire Marshal, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, the Military Department, and other agencies.


Governor’s Office: Governor Pete Ricketts, in consultation with NEMA, issued an emergency declaration effective March 12, 2019, in anticipation of severe weather issues set to impact the state.  The emergency declaration will allow NEMA and other state agencies to address potential impacts from the severe winter storm affecting the Panhandle area, as well as flooding across other areas of the state.


Weather: The Panhandle and North Central Nebraska are under a blizzard warning.  Wind gusts up to 89 mph have been measured by the National Weather Service.  Rain in the eastern part of the state and snow and ice melt are contributing to potentially historic flooding.


Community Shelters: Shelters are opening as needed.  Currently, shelters are available in Broken Bow and Avoca.  People who need shelter in these communities should contact their local emergency management official.  A directory can be found by clicking here.


Nebraska Department of Transportation: West bound I-80 is closed from Kearney to the Wyoming border.  East bound I-80 is closed from Ogallala to the Wyoming border.  Most highways in the Panhandle and many highways in north central and northeast Nebraska are closed due to snow and flooding.  Additional closures are possible.  Monitor social media and for updates.  Travel is extremely hazardous.


Nebraska National Guard: The Nebraska National Guard has opened the Broken Bow Armory for any evacuated citizens, and other armories in the state are available if needed.  The Guard has a helicopter on standby for a potential ice dusting mission later this week.  As a reminder, all requests for National Guard support must come through NEMA. 


Nebraska State Patrol: As a reminder, the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance.  Drivers can reach NSP by dialing *55 from any cell phone.  Call 911 for any emergency.