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Papio NRD monitoring river conditions ahead of possible ice jams

Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-09 23:16:25-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Papio NRD's Rich Tesar is looking for a sign along the Platte River.

"I've seen cracks, large cracks, in the ice, which means our water pressure underneath is pushing up on that ice."

That's the first warning sign on the Platte River of an ice jam that would block water from flowing. It could be a problem for other rivers in the Omaha area.

"There could be enough water on top of the bank where yards could flood," Tesar said.

If ice builds up so much that it blocks the flow of water, Papio NRD have contracted a demolition crew to fly in by helicopter. They will use dynamite to break up the ice to prevent flooding into nearby homes, which isn't anything new to some nearby homeowners.

"Our concern is for those people who have cabins and homes along the river," Tesar said.

"This lot in particular has been built up over the years," homeowner Joe Charvat said. "Some of my neighbors closer to the river are lower so they've had flooding issues."

Charvat is one of the lucky ones compared to property owners closer to the ground.

On the other side of the Platte River is a park that Tesar expects will be flooded to some degree next week.

"We're looking for open water, changes in the snow cover," Tesar said. "It's getting slushy, which means there's water on top of the ice."

Tesar expects this waiting game to last until Wednesday. That's when expected rain could raise the water level in rivers across the city.

"It's the beginning of the process of the river opening."