Last week's flooding caused immense damage to many roads and bridges in eastern Nebraska, forcing many roadways to be shutdown. Now, drivers who are caught going around barricades on affected roads could face a hefty fine or jail time.
On Saturday, a motorist ignored barriers near Skyline Drive and West Dodge Road and the car stalled in high flood waters. Extreme measures had to be used to rescue the driver, illustrating an additional concern law enforcement officials must deal with during this emergency. This type of activity
On Sunday, the Omaha city Prosecutor's Office, along with representatives from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol, Waterloo Police Department, Valley Police Department and other members of the emergency management team members discussed dealing with those who have chosen to disobey that barricades.
City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse tells NewsRadio 1110 KFAB that drivers going around barricaded areas is a public safety issue, which represents a danger to those involved. "You're not supposed to be driving on those roads, they're flooded, the situation is very volatile and could change at any minute. You might think you'd be able to pass and get through it and then you're find yourself in a situation where you're gonna need help from law enforcement."
Kuhse says that going forward, anyone caught going around barricades will be cited. "This is a serious matter. We don't want people on these roads. For their safety and for the safety of the law enforcement and first responders who are gonna have to come out and rescue people who find themselves in these types of situations."
If caught going around the barricades, Kuhse says those drivers will be cited with Trespassing, a Class 3 misdemeanor. "If you're convicted of the Trespassing offense, you face up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine. So those are certain possibilities, that it does carry the possibility of spending time in jail if you make the decision to break through those barricades and travel on these dangerous roads."
In more serious situations where law enforcement must expend great time and effort to rescue a person who ignores these warnings, those individuals face the possible additional charge of Obstructing Government Operations, a Class 1 misdemeanor which carries the possibility of up to one year in jail, a $1000 fine or both.