The 1993 flood that hit Nebraska was one of the worst in our history causing millions of dollars in damage to public, private and agricultural property and facilities. As governor at the time I thought I'd seen it all but then along comes the Great Flood of 2011 which is shaping up to be even worse.
The impact will be felt across our state, from west to east and north to south with record amounts of water flowing through the Platte River and Missouri River Systems. I'm watching this long, drawn out flood like all Nebraskans and my thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are being affected.
I and my staff are monitoring the situation daily and are prepared to push for federal aid as needed. It is for that reason that I asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to come to Nebraska so he could see the flood as it developed and meet with many of those who've been impacted.
Secretary Vilsack made an effort to ease people's minds. Despite rumors to the contrary, crop insurance for damage caused by the floods will be honored.
Secretary Vilsack assures me USDA considers these events natural disasters and that crop insurance and disaster assistance will cover damages. At a meeting he and I held with farmers, small business owners and others affected by flooding, Secretary Vilsack made it clear that this flood is an insurable event.
Federal agencies need to understand the magnitude of the floods and be prepared to continue to assist residents affected by the unfolding disaster. Secretary Vilsack's visit allowed him to see the seriousness of the floods firsthand and give Nebraskans an opportunity to communicate directly with him.
As we learned, farmers are already experiencing losses and there could be more depending on how widespread the flood turns out to be.
Farmers and ranchers at the meeting made clear their concern for, not only their livelihood this year, but the future of their land. Many said their families had been on their properties for generations, and they now worry that they would not be able to pass the land -- and their agricultural way of life -- on to their children.
During his Nebraska visit the Secretary reminded us that there are a number of programs in the USDA that will be there for Nebraskans including coverage for crop losses and to help repair damaged cropland plus emergency loans and rural housing assistance.
My thanks goes out to Secretary Vilsack for coming to Nebraska personally and meeting with so many people who are being affected by the flood. His support and understanding will help us get through this and we will get through this just as Nebraskans always come through tough times.