PLATTSMOUTH – Nebraska’s governor gave his stamp of approval to a new flood-related vehicle for Plattsmouth this past weekend with a splash of water.
Gov. Pete Ricketts christened a high-water military surplus vehicle June 29 during a short ceremony. He was in town as a celebrity judge for the Food Truck Wars and took part in the christening ceremony prior to that event.
Ricketts said state officials were pleased to hear about Plattsmouth’s purchase of the new truck. He said he and other Nebraska leaders understood the city’s situation regarding flooding and would continue to offer support and encouragement.
“We’ll be standing with you every step of the way,” Ricketts said.
Plattsmouth Mayor Paul Lambert said the new vehicle would allow city employees to access the water treatment plant east of downtown. He said positive relationships with local and state entities would continue to pay dividends for the community.
“This has been an example of the good cooperation that we’ve had with other agencies,” Lambert said. “We’re very pleased to have this vehicle here to use for the citizens of Plattsmouth.”
Lambert and Ricketts both said a few words to a small crowd before smiling for a photo in front of the vehicle with State Senator Robert Clements and radio personality Ritch Cassidy. Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis also spoke to the governor before the ceremony.
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Lambert then presented Ricketts with a small water bottle. Ricketts splashed the contents on the windshield of the vehicle for the christening ceremony. The governor and mayor then smiled and shook hands.
The historic flooding in Plattsmouth began March 14 when a combination of rapid snowmelt and heavy rains caused river levels to escalate. The Missouri River at Plattsmouth rose past 30 feet during the initial 24-hour period and crested at 40.62 feet on March 16.
That was the highest level ever registered at Plattsmouth. The previous top height was 36.73 feet on June 30, 2011.
Floodwaters have remained well above normal levels since that time. Plattsmouth police officer Jon Hardy used his drone last weekend to survey a major breach of land on the north side of Schilling Wildlife Management Area. The breach is now 500 feet wide and is allowing water from the Platte River to flow directly past the water treatment plant. This is turning Schilling WMA into a lake for the time being.
Plattsmouth officials bought the diesel-engine military surplus truck for $13,500. The vehicle has large tires and six-wheel-drive capabilities to help it navigate through many types of terrain. This includes flooded areas like the land surrounding the water treatment plant. High-water vehicles can operate in up to 50 inches of water.
City employees have been able to gain access to the water treatment plant by driving the vehicle along flooded portions of Schilling Road. They have restored electrical power to Well 8 and have been able to flush the well. They have also started a pump on the backwash tank and have begun the process of draining a clarifier.
The Missouri River remained at 27.73 feet at Plattsmouth at 1:15 p.m. Friday. Flood stage is 26.0 feet.