State's resilience will be tested by flooding, recovery

Monday, March 18, 2019

Columnist Walt Sehnert’s story on this page about Gazette founder Harry Strunk should offer some insight into the impact the current flooding elsewhere in Nebraska will have over the coming months and years.

Strunk used his personal drive and influence to make sure nothing like the 1935 Republican River flood occurred again.

That took some $175 million to build dams at Enders, Trenton, Cambridge, Red Willow north of McCook, as well as Bonny Dam and Norton Dam.

Officially, only two people are known to have died in the current flooding, and at least two others are missing, compared to 110 killed in 1935 in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

The current flood and previous blizzard might approach the 1935 toll on livestock of 20,593 animals, and losses of highways and bridges may be similar as well.

Sarpy County reported two levees broke over the weekend, flooding 500 homes, and the Missouri River was expected to crest four feet above the record over the weekend, creating concern about NPPD’s nuclear power plant and leaving much of the Offutt Air Force Base under water.

Nebraskans take care of themselves and their neighbors. We’ve already noticed a number of private relief efforts being organized, and the extent of the destruction will push governmental and charity resources to the limit.

It will take years for private property and public infrastructure to be rebuilt, and some have even speculated the flood could be the death knell for some small, struggling communities.

It’s almost routine to hear of the declaration of a disaster when Nebraska has suffered a blizzard or hailstorm, but the flood of 2019 is in a class by itself.

If there were ever an appropriate time for national resources to be marshaled to lend a hand for a local disaster, this is it.

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