Flood relief continues in eastern Nebraska
The response to the historic weather events Nebraskans are facing has been overwhelming.
As of Tuesday, 98 cities, 81 counties and five tribal areas had declared emergencies. Statewide impact totals include over $553 million public and nearly $90 million private.
Livestock losses as of March 25 are estimated at $400 million, while crop loss is estimated at $440 million.
Gov. Pete Ricketts unveiled a website last week to help connect more Nebraskans with opportunities to request and provide relief. The website can be viewed at www.nebraska.gov/nebraska-strong/.
On the website, Nebraskans who need relief can log requests for items and services needed. Requests will then be reviewed by the Nebraska Preparedness Partnership posted for fulfillment by members of the public.
Members of the public who want to help provide relief are encouraged to monitor the website for new requests.
The website was created by Nebraska Interactive at no cost to the state.
Gov. Ricketts proclaimed March 22 #NebraskaStrong Day.
The #NebraskaStrong Drive for Flood Relief, hosted by the Nebraska Broadcasters in partnership with the American Red Cross, raised $436,719 towards flood relief.
On the same day, President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for Nebraska. Nine counties were approved to receive individual assistance including: Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington were approved. In addition, 65 counties and five tribal nations were approved for public assistance. Counties that were not initially approved could still be declared.
Gov. Ricketts has now issued three executive orders to provide relief to flood-impacted communities. The orders give farmers and ranchers a reasonable amount of time to dispose of deceased livestock lost due to severe weather and flooding, temporarily suspend requirements for trip permits and fuel tax permits for certain vehicles engaged in flood relief and temporarily waive overweight limits. The directives are effective until April 15, 2019.
As of March 24, a total of 186 donations have been logged through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have been working to ensure safe drinking water is restored to flood-affected communities.
Of the 606 community public water systems across the state, 14 were temporarily unable to provide water to customers, nine boil-water advisories have been issued, and five do-not-consume advisories have been issued. Full service has been restored to all but four systems, with five boil-water and four do-not-consume orders still in place as of Sunday morning.
Through cooperation with EPA Region 7 and DHHS, a mobile testing laboratory was set up in Fremont, Norfolk, and Verdigre to help private well owners determine their water quality. Through March 23, 226 private well samples were analyzed for total coliform and E. coli bacteria. The public was very receptive and thankful. Approximately 30 percent of the results indicated the presence of bacteria.
DHHS has facilitated the movement of over 400 pallets of bottled water, or roughly 21 full semi-trucks.
One hospital has stopped taking patients due to flood damage (Lynch), and a second hospital prepared to evacuate (though no evacuation was ultimately needed).
Eight nursing home facilities were evacuated, including over 200 residents. Residents are beginning to move back to the facilities.
Two assisted living facilities were evacuated; all residents have since been allowed to return.
Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) inspection teams have been out assessing damage and prioritizing repairs.
As of Monday, 1,309 miles of highway have reopened and 258 miles of highway are still closed.
There are 15 damaged bridges on State Highways.
The Nebraska National Guard has delivered 12 pallets of water, 300 cots, nine pallets of medical supplies, 320 slung sandbags at Linoma Beach, 500 total sandbags placed at Cooper Power Plant, 230 sandbags placed at Loup Canal and 22 bales of hay dropped for cattle feeding in Columbus and Richland.
The American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations have served over 10,000 meals.