The “bomb cyclone” slammed the central United States with hurricane-like winds and blizzard conditions this week, leaving in its tracks heavy rains and flooding.
In a news conference Friday, March 15, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state has experienced historic flooding in nearly every region.
Farmer’s Tractor Went Down In Flood Waters
James Wilke, a Columbus farmer, got a call to assist a stranger, and never came home. According to KMTV, a close family friend posted on social media about his last moments.
"I know a TRUE HERO who wore a T-shirt, blue jeans, work boots and drove a John [Deere tractor]," Jodi L. Hefti wrote of…
“It is no surprise to anyone that knew James that when he got the phone call to assist emergency responders … his answers would be yes,” Jodi L. Hefti wrote on Facebook.
“With the guidance of emergency responders, James drove his tractor over the Shell Creek bridge on the Monestary Road and the bridge gave out. James and the tractor went down into the flood water below.”
This is James Wilke. Friends tell me he was an incredible family man and a man of great faith. The Columbus farmer was on his tractor helping with a flood rescue when a bridge gave way. He is the first confirmed death in these floods. @3NewsNowOmaha Thoughts with his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/qwgJ1p9XAE
— Jennifer Griswold (@griswoldkmtv) March 15, 2019
KOLN and KGIN reported the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency confirmed a flood-related fatality in Platte County. The mayor of Columbus also told the affiliate stations that person was a farmer on a tractor out to rescue someone from the flood waters.
Crews around Platte Valley were rescuing residents from King Lake when they were also stuck.
Fifteen volunteers were stranded on the lake, eventually rescued themselves with the help of the Nebraska National Guard, which brought in a Black Hawk helicopter, according to KETV.
Until I see you again……When someone dies everyone always says what a great person they were, how much they are…
Continued Flood Warnings
The National Weather Service predicts “much calmer” weather in most areas this weekend. However, flooding will persist throughout the Mississippi and Missouri river.
“Anyone with interests along impacted rivers should monitor closely/take action,” the weather service said.
10PM Friday: Latest conditions along the Missouri River. Moderate flooding is ongoing at Omaha. Nebraska City and Brownville are in record-setting territory and will likely remain there for through the weekend. #NEwx #IAwx pic.twitter.com/Uryec94UTb
— NWS Omaha (@NWSOmaha) March 16, 2019
Many central Iowa rivers may see moderate flooding into next week from the rain and snowmelt runoff, the weather service said. An areal flood Warning for northern and parts of central Iowa has been extended through Saturday evening as “local creeks and streams, as well as the main river branches are running high,” according to the weather service.
In Wisconsin, Darlington officials said the city broke its flooding record, since the Pecatonica River crested at 18.2 feet in 1993, according to KCRG.
“This is the worst flooding we’ve had since then,” Darlington Police Chief Jason King said, according to the news station. “We’re hoping that the damage and the actual effects that it could have on businesses and residents will be minor.”