Water rescue

Fort Calhoun Fire personnel rescue a U.S. Postal Service driver from his truck after it was swept off the road by floodwaters Tuesday along County Road P51 southeast of Fort Calhoun. The driver was unharmed.

A U.S. Postal Service driver learned Tuesday afternoon the mail doesn't always go through.

Fort Calhoun Fire used its boat to rescue the letter carrier from his truck after he attempted to drive through floodwaters along County Road P51 near where county roads P49, 51 and P51 meet southeast of Fort Calhoun. The postal truck was swept of the road the water.

Capt. Aaron Brensel of the Washington County Sheriff's Office said the driver, who was unharmed, was not cited. Rescue personnel were able to salvage the mail in the truck.

“Though some was quite wet,” Brensel said.

Rising floodwaters have caused the county to close county roads 34, P49 and P51. Signs are posted.

Brensel said drivers who disobey the signs could be cited.

Residents should be prepared for additional flooding, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

As of Thursday afternoon, the Missouri River at Blair was at 27.8 feet; flood stage is 26.5 feet. The river was forecasted to reach 29.2 feet by Saturday. 

Continued high water is forecasted through June 10, Washington County Emergency Manager Dan Douglas said.

In March, the river crested at 31.12.

City of Blair Public Works Director Al Schoemaker said he anticipated the city would close the floodgate at Optimist Park on Thursday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased releases from Gavins Point Dam to 65,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) Tuesday and an additional 5,000 cfs to 70,000 Wednesday.

On Saturday, the releases will be increased to 75,000 cfs.

Over the last seven days, rainfall over much of Nebraska, South Dakota and central North Dakota has been 200 to 600 percent of normal for this time of the year. The continued rain has led to higher inflows at Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall and Gavins Point.

“The inflows into Oahe are still high and with pool levels in their exclusive zones at the Oahe and Fort Randall reservoirs, we need to ensure we have space available to manage additional runoff,” John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said in a press release.

Increasing the release from Gavins Point Dam will allow more water to pass through the system and slow the rise in the pool levels at these projects.

The effects from releases on the lower Missouri River diminishes at locations further downstream due to the large uncontrolled drainage area and the travel time from Gavins Point Dam, the Corps reported. Travel times for releases from Gavins Point take two to three days to reach Omaha, three to four days to reach Nebraska City and four to five days to reach Kansas City, Mo.

“We will continue to monitor conditions along the length of the Missouri River and make adjustments as necessary,” Remus said.

While there are chances of isolated thunderstorms through the week, the NWS said the heaviest rains should take “a much needed break.”

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