This past week will forever be remembered for the historic, devastating flooding our state experienced. In scope of reach, we believe it is the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history. As Nebraskans, we will get through this together as we always have.
Over the last several days, I have been traveling the state to get briefed on the impacts of the flooding. As I’ve traveled, the stories Nebraskans have shared about the response have been incredible. Even in the face of these incredibly tough odds, Nebraskans everywhere have stepped up and their work has been heroic. In Boyd County, the Fire Chief and Sheriff’s Deputy stayed on the job to help other people even after their own homes got flooded out. In Fremont, hundreds of people answered calls for volunteers to help fill sandbags and build barriers to protect the city against rising water. In Niobrara, the community came together for a meeting at their fire hall two days after glacial chunks of ice destroyed major infrastructure and buildings in the town.
These stories are repeated over and over across our state. It’s a reminder that we truly live in the greatest state in the nation – a place where people genuinely care for their neighbors. Thank you to the local Emergency Managers (EM), first responders, law enforcement, and countless volunteers who have stepped up. These unsung heroes are bringing us through one of the toughest chapters in our state’s history.
Recovery will be a long road, but I know that together we will get through this. We will all do our part. Here’s how you can help:
Safety: We continue to ask everyone not to travel in areas where roads are closed. Do not cross flooded roads. Over the last week, wise decisions have been keeping people safe even under extreme conditions. While flood waters are receding, please remain vigilant. It will be quite some time before infrastructure is back in place to prevent recurring flooding. If flood waters have subsided in your community, make sure that you return only when local officials have given the all clear.
Relief: The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Nebraska National Guard have been working around the clock with numerous partners to deliver relief to communities across the state. Members of the National Guard have been deployed to communities around the state to support relief efforts. Ongoing requests for relief should be communicated through local EMs. You can find your EM at www.nema.nebraska.gov.
Assistance: There are lots of resources and more are coming online every day. Here are a few hotlines that can help as we recover:
· Nebraskans needing property cleanup can contact the Crisis Clean Up Hotline: 833-556-2476.
· Farmers in need of hay, feed stuffs, fencing materials, volunteer help, equipment, etc. should call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 1-800-831-0550.
· Businesses can call the U.S. Chamber’s Disaster Help Desk for Business at 1-888-692-4943.
· NEMA has set up a hotline for general questions from the public. The number is 402-817-1551.
· For all other needs for assistance call 211.
· If you have an emergency, you should dial 911.
Infrastructure: The Nebraska Department of Transportation (DOT) is inspecting the integrity of state infrastructure as quickly as possible. It will take quite a while to inspect all of the state and local infrastructure impacted by flooding. In just the first few days of the severe weather and flooding, our DOT team had put in over 40,000 hours of work. We appreciate all they do. To check the conditions and status of state roads, please visit www.511.nebraska.gov.
Support: Nebraskans have a big heart and they are stepping up in incredible ways to help their neighbors. We will need a lot of help to put our communities back together as we rebuild. I encourage you to contact the Salvation Army’s volunteer hotline at 402-898-6050 to register as a volunteer. If you live in one of the impacted areas, please support the work your local EM is already doing. If you would like to donate money or give blood, please do so through the American Red Cross. You can find more information athttps://redcross.org/local/nebraska.html.
In the coming weeks, I know Nebraskans will continue to pull together as we rebuild and keep our state strong and growing. Please watch www.Governor.Nebraska.gov for more updates on our work. If you have any thoughts you would like to share on this topic or any other, I hope that you will reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244.
Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.