NIOBRARA ONLINE

..... June 11, 2015, 2015, Flood Edition....

IMPORTANT FLOOD UPDATES - The "boil drinking water" rule for Lusk has been lifted by State & Local health officials, you no longer have to boil water for drinking and cooking. ALL HIGHWAYS through Niobrara County for passenger and tourist traffic will be OPEN by midmorning on June 13, there is a short detour on US 85 North from Lusk. Large truck traffic north will stll be detoured to Highway 270 through Manville, Wyoming.

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"Does anyone know where the Love of God goes when high water turns the minutes to hours... "

Wednesday, June 3 - evening thunderstorms in Lusk and western Niobrara County set in for hours dumping record amounts of rain on the area.

June 4 - at about 1 a.m. high water crosses US 18-20 just west of Manville and takes out the culvert flooding the town of Manvile and then continuing north to fill the headwaters of the Niobrara River.

By 1:30 a.m., some residents in west Lusk along the river are getting calls from friends in Manville telling them to "get up and get moving" because the water is probably "coming down".

3 a.m. and the waters roar across, around and through the Lusk Golf Course and set sail for Lusk.

3:30 to 5:30 a.m. The flood blasts into Lusk and continues to rampage, crossing the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and flooding the north end of Main Street in downtown Lusk. Meanwhile the force of the water under the US 85 overpass eats away at the foundation of the structure and finally casues the south overpass section to buckel, cave and drop some 10 feet on one end. Later on the overpass span falls completely on to the tracks below. High water remains in Lusk until about 10 a.m. when it finally begins to slowly recede. Local rescue workers and many volunteers are on the scene helping flooded out families and ensuring the safety of the area. Electricity and water supplies to the Community are cut off. By 10 a.m. huge pumping trucks have already begin to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water out of basements in the city, including much of what is left of the Lusk business district. As State and National help begins to pour in and a flood central center is established at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds Niobrara officials begin to try to assess damage. The Niobrara River Flood of 2015 has happened....

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Niobrara streams are flooding and many roads are washed out with water going over roads in places no one has ever seen it go before. Hat Creek came roaring out of the Hat Creek Breaks and cut the banks, moved trees and rocks before heading for its destination with the Cheyenne River. Old Women Creek flooded over US 85 at the Boner Road bridge and left debry scattered some 50 yards north of the bridge....

June 5 to present - The cleanup and and rebuilding continues, some businesses have re-opened and the highways have all been opened for traffic through Niobrara County. National organizations such as FEMA and Red Cross were in town early and remain to help residents. State highway crews, Union Pacific crews and hundreds of other workers have been and are helping out. For the most part things are improving little by little, folks are getting help from friends, neighbors and federal workers. Yes, unfortunately, there has been some scavenging but for the most part the communities behavior has been wonderful. One could write a book on what we've seen in the last week, but we'll show you more photos knowing that they tell the tale....

Editor's Special Note: We watched the flood from early in the morning, right through the day. But even more we watched the people. We saw shock and anger perhaps a little fear in the morning gloom. Later we saw caring and helping others. The many hundreds of people that volunteered their time and hard work to help a neighbor will always be remembered. It was a heartfelt day and has been a long week.

Late the day of the flood, I looked into the face of a tired, dirty and wet volunteer... there was no dispair... Instead a resolve in the eyes and a certain set to the jaw.... Niobrara had started to rebuild....

Niobrara Online will be back within a week with our regular format... thanks to everyone who helped during the last week... let's continue to take care of each other....

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