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The Platte County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday evening confirmed a second flood-related death near Columbus.

Betty Hamernik, 80, of rural Columbus, died after first responders were unable to access her home Thursday because of the fast water current, extremely high waves and winds gusting to 60 mph, according to information from the sheriff’s office.

Thursday, authorities were notified that Hamernik was trapped in her house by rising floodwaters from the Loup River.

Because of the conditions, assistance was requested through the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the office said. That afternoon, a team from Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force 1, including Lincoln firefighters, arrived, but attempts to reach Hamernik’s home west of the river were unsuccessful.

Air support was requested from the Nebraska National Guard, but attempts that evening were again unsuccessful because of the extreme conditions.

Friday morning, the Nebraska National Guard again attempted to reach the residence, and after several tries, a rescue crew, including a paramedic from the Columbus Fire Department, successfully gained entrance into the home. The rescue crew found Hamernik dead, but was unable to transport her body from the home, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Sunday, dive team members from the sheriff’s office were able to reach the residence and retrieved Hamernik’s body.

Hamernik’s death is the second confirmed death in Nebraska floodwaters. Columbus-area farmer James Wilke, 50, died Thursday morning while driving his tractor over the Shell Creek bridge about 3 miles north of Columbus in a rescue attempt. The structure gave way, sending Wilke and his tractor into the floodwaters.

Photos, videos from flooding

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Online editor

Victoria Ayotte Brown is the Journal Star online editor.

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