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Will flooding become state's 'new normal'?
The lull before the “storm” that accompanies the fall start of school is no break for local governmental entities that are busy working on budgets for the upcoming year.
City and county governments, in particular, are increasingly dealing with expenses associated with aging infrastructure, up to a century or more after much of it was installed as our communities were settled and built into modern towns and cities.
Water has always been key to Nebraska’s character, from ancient times when it was covered by an inland sea, to times when immigrants who didn’t make it all the way to the West Coast chose to settle along the state’s rivers, to the Republican River flood of 1935 and the recent dispute with Colorado and Kansas over flows in the Republican River.
Barnett Park was blocked off today in anticipation of the river reaching flood stage, with additional rainfall overnight.
Whether this year’s flooding was a fluke or signs of climate change, government and taxpayers must be prepared to deal with it.
March blizzards are nothing unusual, but this year’s snow and rain fell on frozen ground, causing a massive snowmelt and flooding that caused $435 million in damage to Nebraska’s roads, bridges, utilities and other public infrastructure.
While Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts are set up to direct local money for flood protection, the head of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency told the Associated Press that the state has not had a coordinated strategy.
Of course, Nebraska and other states qualify for federal aid, but we’re ignoring reality to think that doesn’t burden local taxpayers as well.
Before decision makers at any level of government promote additional expenditures for existing or new projects, adequate resources must be directed for existing infrastructure already in place.