Thursday, October 30, 2014
   
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Campground at mercy ofoverflowing Platte River

McDiarmids close KOA when water over-runs banks.

Sloshing around in ankle-deep river water last Friday didn’t phase Barry McDiarmid a bit.

Although Barry and Gwen McDiarmid are used to a run-off channel of the Platte River overflowing its banks—it’s happened at least seven times since they bought the campground in 1995—they don’t like to lose business.

 

The Platte River permeated the campground last week, forcing the McDiarmids to temporarily close the KOA Campground June 23.

 

The week before, a cabin on the southern end of the campground and a nearby volleyball court were off limits when heavy rainfall caused groundwater to create a small lake.

Last week, Barry said the river rose because of heavy snow melt and rain from Colorado and Wyoming.

On Friday at 3 p.m., National Weather Service officials said the Platte at Cozad was at 6.56 feet compared to flood stage which is 6.5 feet.

At Brady, the river crested at 7.68 feet Friday. Flood stage there is 7.5 feet.

Cancelling 40 reservations for only four days last week—the busiest time of the year with Nebraskaland Days in North Platte—cost the McDiarmids about $1,500.

The loss of business doesn’t include the estimated 70 campers they turned away during that time and the days to follow.

In addition to income lost during the height of the tourist season, the McDiarmids will have to spend money and time to clean up the campground when floodwaters recede.

Barry said they’ll check the electrical boxes for each camper and the campground’s water supply as well as insuring that campsites weathered the flood.

“But there’s really no assessment of damage until the water goes away,” Barry said.

On Monday, Gwen said floodwaters had receded somewhat but not enough to check, clean and reopen the campground.

She said she didn’t know when the campground would be back in business although the gas station and British Imports Store is still open.

Flooding has happened so many times the McDiarmids said they’ve become immune.

In fact Barry said the worst flooding occurred in 1995 when a dike upstream burst where the Platte crosses under I-80 west of Gothenburg.

A diversion channel and spillway, that is lower than the dike, were installed which Gwen said means high water flows over the spillway sooner and into the campground.

Barry described the Platte, because it’s braided, as flowing

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