- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Residents forced from a northern Wyoming community alongside the Bighorn River were allowed back home Tuesday after an ice jam that caused flooding broke up overnight, but flooding concerns immediately shifted to communities downstream.

The flooding left huge slabs of ice littered around the streets of the small city of Worland that had to be removed by heavy equipment operators, said Washakie County government spokeswoman Kami Neighbors.

Officials were assessing damage to homes and businesses.

They were also monitoring the ice jam that moved about 10 miles downstream, said National Weather Service meteorologist Trevor LaVoie.

A rapid melt of low elevation snowpack that sent water into a river still choked with ice caused the river to rise about 5 feet above its flood stage last Saturday.

Next in line for possible flooding were the small Big Horn County towns of Manderson and Greybull.

About 68 Wyoming National Guard members were being moved from Worland to Manderson, said Kelly Ruiz, spokeswoman with the Wyoming Homeland Security Office. Two teams of firefighters who normally fight forest fires in the summer are in Greybull.

“They are sandbagging and preparing for the rising water,” Ruiz said.

Residents in Big Horn County have been warned by local authorities to be prepared to leave their homes if the river tops its banks.

“We’re blessed that we have the time that we do to know we can get protective resources in place,” Ruiz said.

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