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Dragstrip Shutdown Due to Flood Risk

Updated: Jul 2

The weather for the start of the 2024 season has been relentless. In the Omaha National Weather Service area, it has been a season of unprecedented severity, requiring numerous postponed and canceled events.

How it Started

The track general manager received a "River Flood Watch" alert on Friday, June 21st, at 1:40 PM.

Overnight, several rounds of heavy rain moved from northern Nebraska into southern Minnesota. The hardest impacted areas were in southeast South Dakota where upwards of 8" fell overnight, leading to significant flooding south of Sioux Falls. Over the next few days, more rounds of rain are expected which would only add to the flooding levels. -KMTV News

At this time NOAA was predicting a 29' level on June 26th.

  • At 28', the Plattsmouth water treatment plant road floods.

  • At 28.5', A campground off of River Road in Plattsmouth, about 1.5 miles downstream of the river toll bridge, begins to flood.

  • At 29', water is flowing through breached levees, causing significant flooding to areas that were previously protected.

  • 36.73' - 2011 crest causing 2' flood at the track

  • 40.62' - 2019 crest causing 10' flood after multiple levee breaches


On Sunday, we saw predictions creep up to 32.3'. That morning, we decided to evacuate all equipment to the hill next to the lake. In the 2019 floods, water did not make it that high, making it a safe haven for equipment. Additionally, we started moving all items from the garage, lower than 5', to the second story.

That Sunday, we hosted "Import Face-Off". During the last hour of the event, we started moving all equipment to the hill, and the drag tree was also moved to the second floor.

Around 2:30 PM on Monday, it was decided to disconnect electrical and pull sensors, scoreboards, and any breaker under 5' high. It was calculated that if a levee were to breach, the water could potentially reach 5' at the park. Drag racing was canceled for June 28th and June 29th as it required power. But "Funday Sunday" on the road course continued on schedule as no power was required for that event.

The park's lake has been extremely low this season and very low the past couple of seasons. We noticed the lake starting to fill back up, likely from groundwater leeching from the Missouri. The lake is fed from the lake just to the South on the previous owner's, John Fitch, property. That is fed from Pony Creek. But the creek was fairly low, maybe about 1' of water.

At this time, residencies and campgrounds just West of us were under mandatory evacuation. The Love's and BP gas stations were operating normally. There were no signs of evacuation from the Lincoln Camp Ground behind BP, Harley Davidson, the tank company, or Bish's RV overflow lot. After talking with Bish's they were to start removing RV's on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday around noon, in a 104-degree heat index, Mid-America Energy disconnected the electrical and pulled all the breakers. Earlier, the scoreboards and sensors were removed. We were trying to avoid electrical damage that costs tens of thousands after the 2019 flood.

Lincoln's BP brought in a refrigerator trailer to evacuate product when they needed to. Love's corporate continued to wait it out. A mechanic at Harley says they are also waiting it out.

That night, Papillion, LaVista, and Bellevue were hammered with up to 4" hail for an extended time period and may have also hit the track. Straight-line winds up to 106 MPH took out 36,000 power customers in the OPPD service area and caused significant tree and power damage in Iowa.

The Wait

On Wednesday Lincoln's campground off the Plattsmouth bridge was mostly covered in water extended up to the Levee.

An access road on the East side of the toll bridge was still barely accessible.

The Pony Creek was still low.

As of Friday the 28th, the peak was pushed back until Sunday at 1:00 AM at 32.5'. It was anticipated the water would start receding about 24 hours later on Monday, July 1, at 1:00 AM. The flood stage was predicted to go from Moderate to Minor at 21.7' at 7:00 PM later that day. The flood stages were predicted to cease on Wednesday, July 3rd, at 7:00 AM.

At that time, I-29 was underwater at I-680

On Saturday, June 29th, the Missouri River crested at 31.75' and almost instantly started a downward trend. There were some minor signs of leakage beyond the levee walls into fields, which is normal.

On Sunday afternoon, June 30th, the decision was made to start putting back in breakers as no discernable flood threat existed. The tower garage breakers were put back in, which took about an hour.

On Monday, the remaining breakers, excluding the primary panel by the dragstrip grandstands, were all put back in place. At this time we were made aware of a flood watch, with rains overnight around 1" but up to 5" in some localized areas.

Well, as luck would have it, we received somewhere around 4.6" - 5" of rain overnight. The park was covered in water, and the Missouri started rising from 29.59" up to 30.84" at the Plattsmouth bridge. A photo posted on a public flood chat was an non-specific location, and a statement of a levee breach started, causing a bit of a panic. This ended up being a photo of fields next to Hwy 34 on the Nebraska side. This is expected as these fields don't have great drainage and hold water well.

At about noon, the water level started declining again. Early that morning, there was some talk of a potential levee breach at Hwy 34, where the Platte meets the Missouri. However, after talking with Mills County Roads, we were informed thatwater had made it past a specific portion of the levee, but we were in no danger, and there was no compromised levee.

This led to an overfull ditch on the West side of 190th Street and a high ditch on the East side.

The primary breakers were put back in, the meters replaced, and the pole reenergized. Next, it was on to putting timing sensors and scoreboards back in and starting the process of bringing equipment back down from the hill. Due to the heavy rains, this proved difficult.

At that time it seemed we should be in the clear by Friday, July 5th.

To be continued...

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