Central Nebraska is in 'full recovery mode' after flooding

Central Nebraska is in 'full recovery mode' after flooding

Monday, July 22, 2019

South-central Nebraska communities that were hit with heavy rain and flooding last week were in “full recovery mode” Sunday, an emergency management official said.

Residents ripped out soggy drywall and other materials from their homes. And those who were forced to stay in shelters were moving back home or were staying with family or friends.

Authorities were still assessing damage in cities like Kearney, Gibbon and Wood River after heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday caused flash flooding, swollen streams and a rising water table.

Determining the full extent of the damage might take some time, said Darrin Lewis, emergency management director for the City of Kearney and Buffalo County.

In Gibbon, the flooding was worse than in March, when widespread flooding affected much of Nebraska and Iowa. About 60 homes and businesses were damaged this time, compared with 32 in March, Fire Chief Rick Brown said.

Two homes might be beyond repair, he said, and four others were heavily compromised after basement walls fell in.

Firefighters, neighbors and volunteers all pitched in with cleanup, including crews from Lancaster and Sarpy Counties.

“This community is awesome,” Brown said.

The Wood River was back in its banks Sunday and slowly going down, Brown said, but groundwater was still seeping into basements because of the high water table.

Kearney still had some standing water in the south part of town, mostly in the streets, Lewis said.

The damage was spread across the county, he said.

Lewis said he expected shelters to begin shutting down after Sunday.

Organizations like the Salvation Army and Knights of Columbus — as well as the University of Nebraska at Kearney — took in about 400 residents and hotel customers displaced by the flooding, Lewis said.

The university opened up two dormitories to house flood victims and the student union to feed them, he said.

Officials will be going door to door and reaching out online to assess the damage, Lewis said.

Residents are waiting to hear if the state or federal governments will declare an emergency in the affected areas.

Meanwhile, Lewis said, recovery efforts will continue “one day at a time.”


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