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Nebraska Flood Time Line in Brief

Warmer temperatures, melting snow, and wet weather have brought devastating floods to Nebraska. Floodwaters have wreaked havoc in other Midwest states including Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Meteorologists warn that more flooding may be coming for spring 2019.

Here’s a time line of recent events, the response from governments and volunteer relief efforts, as well as a look ahead to recovery.

Week of March 10

March 12-14: A rare combination of extreme weather events struck the Plains, dumping snow and rain in Nebraska. Meteorologists explain the bomb cyclone that brought devastating floods to the Midwest in this article.

March 14: Farmer James Wilke lost his life helping to rescue a stranded motorist in Platte County, Nebraska. Aaron Witt, pastor at Christ Lutheran Church honored his memory saying, “If something needed done, James was here to help.”

Spencer Dam collapsed March 14, 2019 in Nebraska
Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

March 14: Spencer Dam in Boyd County, Nebraska, collapsed. The Highway 281 bridge was destroyed when the dam gave way to flood waters.

March 16: The number of emergency declarations grew through the weekend as the state was overwhelmed with devastating floods. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts contacted President Donald Trump in an effort to have the state declared a national emergency, which would allow it to obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. 

Week of March 17

March 18: Photos started coming into the Successful Farming magazine newsroom showing the devastation in farm fields and small towns. If you have your own photos to share, contact

March 18: Anheuser-Busch announced it was sending two truckloads of emergency drinking water to flood victims in Nebraska.

March 18: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted, “At @POTUS request, @VP will travel to Nebraska tomorrow to survey the damage from the terrible flooding that’s impacted much of the Midwest. He’ll be joined by @GovRicketts & @IAGovernor. Thank you to First Responders and many volunteers helping those affected!” More details of the trip plans were published in this story.

March 19: Vice President Mike Pence boarded Air Force 2 to visit flood-ravaged Nebraska. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst accompanied him.

March 19: Although the floodwaters began to recede in some areas, hundreds of miles of state highways remain inaccessible. Closures are complicating relief efforts and hammering Nebraska’s agriculture industry.

March 19: The Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced efforts to identify livestock producer needs and connect them with support. Farmers and ranchers in need, call 800/831-0550. Farmers should be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Type and number of livestock
  • Location (including county)
  • What assistance you need
  • How urgent your need is

Volunteers may also call 800/831-0550 to learn how to help or where to take donations. Donors and volunteers should be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • What you have to offer
  • How much you have to offer
  • Location

March 19: Pence did make a trip to Nebraska to survey flood damage. He was accompanied by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “The hearts of the American people are with those who have been impacted across the Midwest!” Pence said in a tweet.

March 20: More photos depicting devastated communities and relief efforts already under way have been published by Ricketts’ office.

March 21: “According to current Food and Drug Administration policy, grain inundated by uncontrolled river or stream water is considered adulterated and must be destroyed,” stated an Iowa State University report written by Charles Hurburgh, ISU agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Dan Loy of the Iowa Beef Center. Read more about how to deal with flooded damaged crop in this article.

Week of March 24

March 25: President Trump signed disaster proclaimations for Iowa and Nebraska, making federal assistance available in both states. Read more about what that means for farmers in the region in this article. 

Looking Ahead

The National Weather Service (NWS) has said flood conditions will last into next week as North Dakota and South Dakota warm up. “That snowpack is still there and it’s going to keep melting, and that’s bad news,” Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center said.

If you are in the flooded areas or plan to make a trip to help impacted farmers, remember these 5 tips for navigating flooded Midwest roads.

Even if you farm outside the immediately impacted region, the predicted wet spring brings a unique set of challenges. Check out these four steps for corn farmers to overcome the soggy conditions.

The start of planting season looks wet across the region, so patience will be key. “I can’t stress enough the importance of waiting for the right weather,” says Melissa Bell, commercial agronomist for Mycogen Seeds. “We can still raise some phenomenally good May-planted corn, rather than doing things the wrong way the first week of April.” Read more about your spring fertility options in the article.

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