- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Road crews have reopened sections of highway damaged by flooding in eastern Wyoming this week, and the wet weather pattern that has gripped the state for the past few weeks appears to be easing.

A 20-mile section of U.S. 20 from Lusk to the Nebraska state line, a 50-mile stretch of U.S. 85 south of Lusk to Lingle, and a 35-mile section of state Highway 270 all reopened Saturday, the Wyoming Department of Transportation said. Crews were still working to reopen U.S. 18-20 between Lusk and Orin Junction at Interstate 25, U.S. 85 north from Lusk to Mule Creek Junction and Highway 270 from Manville to its junction with U.S. 85.

Flash flooding early Thursday washed out a culvert on U.S. 18-20 near Manville, collapsed a bridge on the north side of Lusk on U.S. 85 and caused other damage that forced the transportation department to shut down traffic in and out of Lusk on Thursday and Friday except for local residents and emergency responders.

“We’re making progress slowly but surely,” department spokesman Bruce Burrows said Saturday.

The U.S. Postal Service has resumed mail deliveries to areas where carriers can reach.

Many rural residents rely on the mail for checks and medications, postal spokesman David Rupert said. “It’s kind of a lifeline for a lot of those people,” he said.

Meantime, residents of Lusk and other communities in Niobrara County continued to clean up from the flood. They were being aided by various state agencies, including the Wyoming National Guard.

The Red Cross estimated about 30 homes in Niobrara County were destroyed and 15 to 20 businesses, mostly in Lusk, were damaged.

Gov. Matt Mead declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to the flooding in Niobrara County and weather-related damage that has occurred elsewhere in the state during the past few weeks.

In northern Wyoming, three homes in Buffalo sustained major damage and 20 others suffered water damage this week, according to the state Office of Homeland Security. The Red Cross has issued about 100 cleanup kits in the Buffalo area.

The National Weather Service predicted the active thunderstorm pattern would begin to dissipate beginning Sunday, with fair weather expected the coming week.

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