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Kearney still taking steps to recover one year after flooding

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 6:58 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Just looking at the intersection of 11th St and 2nd Ave in Kearney it may be hard to tell that one year ago there were feet of water rushing over it. There’s been a lot of efforts to get things back to normal.

Nearly 7in of rain fell the night before to bring feet of water rushing through the hospitality district and homes on the southern part of Kearney. People in the hotels had to be rescued by boat and many locals had never seen the water that high. It took no time for people to jump into action to help get people out of danger.

“Boy they couldn’t believe the amount of help they were getting city employees and others carrying their bags, helping them fix their vehicles, and arranging places to go eat and stay and that’s just Kearney,” City Manager Mike Morgan said.

Since the flooding, the city of Kearney has made changes to help prevent the water rising that high again.

“We’ve been able to do some flood control projects down south and that should help to some degree and then our storm water management program is under review to determine other items we can work on,” Morgan said.

The Salvation Army took in over 300 people the day of the flood. Many of them were staying in the hotels and needed a place to stay. Others couldn't go back to their homes until the water receded. For weeks after, they had resources and food for people trying to get their lives back together. They still are giving assistance now to people making repairs.

“I never thought that a year later we would still be dealing with people’s damages and things. But here we are and we’re not done. We still have a ways to go,” Case Manager Lisa Lieth said.

Some people have yet to make the repairs to their homes from last summer.

“I would say probably the people that didn’t have an immediate need, like they didn’t have to go into their basement and it was easier for them to wait a little bit, but some of them didn’t because they just didn’t have the funds,” Lieth said.

It took months for the hotels to reopen just in time for the pandemic. Morgan said there is still a long road to fully recover from the floods. Bills need to be reimbursed by the federal government and recovery from the pandemic also will play into getting back to normal.

“The recovery would be the loss of revenue during that time because there were several months that that industry was hit and by the time it got going again COVID hit,” Morgan said. “That industry is extremely important to us for revenue, sales tax, and restaurants.”

Different groups said the resiliency and generosity of Kearney are what got them through the once in a lifetime event.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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