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PHOTOS: South Fremont Flooding, 3.15.19

The light may be green, but this small red car won't be going anywhere after a levee north of the Platte River broke and flood waters flowed into the Inglewood business area on Friday. Flood waters extended from Boulevard Street to the south end of the Broad Street viaduct.

It all happened so quickly.

On Friday morning, I went on Broad Street toward the Platte River bridge after a report of water flowing across U.S. 77.

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department and Nebraska State Patrol were redirecting traffic away from the scene, but allowed me into the area.

I found a parking spot in the Wooden Windmill restaurant lot and set out to take some photographs.

Water was flowing over the levee on the north side of the Platte River around 10 a.m. Friday and water flowed over U.S. 77 and into Inglewood.

I watched as water began flooding the lots of Inglewood businesses along Broad Street and at Broad and Ridgeland Avenue.

Officials at the scene said the City of Fremont and Sawyer Construction brought dirt to try to block the flow of water and allow law enforcement an opportunity to open U.S. 77.

But the water kept flowing.

The highway flooded from Prospect Street to Casey’s General store. Then it continued flooding to the end of the South Broad Street viaduct.

Larger vehicles made their way through the flooded area, sending sprays of water on either side. A small red car stood abandoned in the middle of the highway.

Police in a large black rescue vehicle said they were going to try and rescue a family with a baby in the 200 to 300 block of Prospect Avenue.

National Guard officials made their way to the area and planned to go house to house knocking on doors and evacuating people.

Dave Mentzer, who owns the Wooden Windmill restaurant, stood quietly as he watched the flowing waters.

“(Water) started flooding the south side of the restaurant and slowly bled everything into Inglewood and flooded the whole area,” Mentzer said.

After a while, the Wooden Windmill seemed to be an island amid a sea of muddy water.

“I’ve worked here for 37 years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” Mentzer said. “We’ve got a little bit of water in the back room in the restaurant, but the restaurant is OK for the moment and everything else around us is flooded. It’s not good for anybody.”

Steve Seigo, who owns a huge 5-ton truck said he got a call at about 11 a.m. from Deputy Craig Harbaugh of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, asking for assistance.

So Seigo and Cameron Ortmeier left their jobs at Americold where they are maintenance men, to help in rescue efforts.

“I’m happy to help,” Seigo said.

Seigo had to help me climb into the cab of the tall truck.

South Broad Street looked like a muddy sea as Seigo’s huge truck barreled through the waters.

We passed cars with water halfway up to their tires. Orange and white barrels bobbed in the water.

A granite “Welcome to Fremont” monument on the east side of the highway and the words “Can You Feel It” on the Tailgate Motor Co., sign added to the surreal feel of the entire area, which was quiet except for the sound of the truck sloshing through the flood.

The waters extended to the south end of the South Broad Street viaduct where a small group of people stood looking at the flooded area.

One woman took a photo with her phone.

A marquee on the Indra tree service sign advertising topsoil, mulch and river rock, seemed a bit ironic, too. It may be a while before people in the area need these supplies.

Seigo dropped me off at the sheriff’s office, where Sgt. Dustin Weitzel said he’d heard that North Bend residents were being evacuated to Snyder, and people in Fremont's Deerfield housing area were asked to evacuate voluntarily.

Back at the office, the scanner traffic buzzed with reports of people being evacuated from area residences. One scanner voice announced that there's no way in or out of Fremont.

The flooding is bringing hazards and heartaches to many area residents as a long week appears to be turning into a longer weekend.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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