Thursday, August 14, 2014

Waterloo Flood

Waterloo, Nebraska - Flooding - 1912
Waterloo, Nebraska - Flooding - 1912

Who's Who

Unidentified. Probably not relatives.


Because of its location on two very unpredictable rivers, Platte River and Elkhorn River, Waterloo has been ravaged by many floods[1][2][3]. This postcard probably depicts the flood of March-April 1912[4].

Waterloo, Nebraska is about 80 miles east and down river from Platte Center, Nebraska and would have been well known to my grandparents.  Flooding in Platte Center, Nebraska itself was also a common occurrence from Elm Creek which passes through the middle of town.

Snow/Ice melts as well as runoff from storms can cause streams in the Nebraska Lower Platte River Basin to quickly rise and overflow their banks. This is illustrated in the following newspaper clipping:

The Columbus Journal, June 10, 1908 page 8.

Apparently a severe storm, including a tornado, damaged my great grandfather's recently built barn as well as buildings of his neighbors.  The accompanying rains caused flooding down stream where Peter Schmitt's mill was located in the next county east.

Flooding in Waterloo, Nebraska is common even a century later.  On June 13, 2010, this weather bulletin was issued: "The Elkhorn river is at flood stage just North West of the Omaha metro on in the town of Waterloo, Nebraska. The river is expected to continue to rise tonight into tomorrow and cause flooding to the homes and buildings."[5]  The following video displays what flooding occurs even though flood control measures have been put in place to help protect Waterloo.


Probably March-April 1912[4].


Waterloo, Nebraska. Two miles to the west is the Platte River and as may be noted on the map, the Elkhorn River wraps around the east side of this small town.

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  1. "The Worst Floods In History" Federal Government And The Floods Of 1944 In The Elkhorn River Basin
  2. Great Flood of 1881.
  3. Historic Floods on the Missouri River.
  4. Flooding in the Elkhorn Basin 1823-1940.