The year of the Floods. First major flood to hit the town of Wood River was March 14, 2019. A second one to hit the town that year was July 11, 2019. A third one hit Wood River on August 23, 2019, with most damage done in the rural areas. This put several projects in place to prevent future flooding damage to main parts of town and some rural areas.
Goals that were set in Fall of 2019 to prepare for 2020
The goals have been broken down into 3 different parts. The first part were things we could do and start on immediately afterwards in 2019. The second part is projects we can start on and are still working on now as weather and money are proficient. The third part is set up as long-term goals that will take place in the future.
Projects that have already been done are the cleaning out of the ditches and culverts. The ditches south of Hwy. 30 along town have been dug out and widened to carry a larger amount of water. The ditch behind Mr. Reeder’s place (east side of the trailer park) to Hwy 30 has been dug out. Along Cottonwood St. & Hwy 30 the state has placed some concrete at the bottom of this ditch intersection. The dirt & water berms are still in place as a temporary deterrent on that corner also. The north ditch along highway 30 has been mowed and maintained from town to Schauppsville Rd. Sandbags have also been left around the vent of the lift station.
The city has been working on, with monetary help from the NRD, more cleaning & building projects. They are going to build up the riverbanks along McGuire Rd to help the river maintain its banks and prevent county flooding as much as possible. A box culvert will be put by the sewer lift station under Walnut Street to help eliminate the water pressure from the Green Street ditch that caused much sewer damage last year. The ditch along Walnut Street on both sides from the sewer lift station to Wood River Road then east in the south ditch for close to a ¼ mile will be cleaned, dug out and lined with concrete. The intersection at Walnut Street and Wood River Road will be redone with new culverts and widened. As soon as they possibly can, the fire department is going to burn ditches along Walnut Street and along Hwy 30.
Now for some of the long-term goals: With the help of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the State of Nebraska for $485,000, the town is going to continue making itself safe from extreme flooding. Many of the projects that could’ve been worked on before had been put on hold until the grants are funded. Any project that would have been started on would not have been funded and Wood River may have lost the grant all together. Most of this grant will go towards the Walnut St. drainage system project with other applications in process the City is expecting to have other drainage projects to be funded at a later date. A Hydrology and Hydraulics study by Felsbury, Holt, & Ullevig, is being done to figure out the best way to construct drainage improvements throughout the City with the Walnut Street project being finished first since the funding was awarded to this project. Plans also call for a permanent retaining wall to be built to replace the berms on Cottonwood and Hwy 30. The NRD is doing a 3-year study with the Army Corp of Engineers on the best way to manage the water flow from Pleasanton to Grand Island in the Wood River watershed.
This is what the Council, Fire Dept., County and State are doing. There are many preventatives that you can do for yourselves. There is still plenty of time to get a sewer stop check put in to prevent sewer backups. Purchase and install sump pumps. Clean out around your window wells. Rural residents should check with the county to see about cleaning out their ditches and culverts. If possible, get burn permits and burn ditches. Talk about a plan if you were to have a repeat of last year. Talk to the kids ahead of time and tell them about your plans. Go to the website www.ready.gov – Plan for a Disaster for more ideas. If you are feeling stress and anxiety from the unknown, please talk to someone. Reach out to the ministerial association.