Nebraska town celebrates Christmas, recovery from flood

DANNEBROG, Neb. (KSNB) - For one small Nebraska community hit hard by flooding in March, this Christmas means more than just sleigh bells and Christmas trees.

People in Dannebrog celebrated Christmas, and the end to a tough year, Sunday at the town's annual Danish Christmas Festival. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

We're about nine months out from when major flooding swept through Dannebrog, causing severe damage to homes an businesses. Although there's still a ways to go, people took a moment to celebrate the holidays, and how far they've come on Sunday.

They did that with the town's annual Danish Christmas Festival, which they've done for more than 30 years.

Kids rode with Santa on a firetruck sleigh to Columbia Hall, where they decorated gingerbread cookies, wrote letters to Santa and told Santa what they wanted this Christmas.

People also enjoyed a Danish Buffet at the American Legion, with lots of sweets and fried chicken.

Marna Porath, owner of Marna's Country Catering in Dannebrog, made most of the food and deserts. Porath said her home flooded back in March as well, and had at least six inches of water in the basement for several months.

"We were into the first month of September before it went completely out of our basement," Porath said.

Porath said her business wasn't too affected by the flooding, because she worked on the first floor of her home.

She said she started making some of her deserts for the Danish Christmas Festival just short of three months ago, and is glad the town continued the annual tradition this year.

"I think the town has really come together and helped each other. I really do. We all kind of supported each other with the church's and the whole nine years. So it all fell into place," Porath said.

Lori Larsen, the Howard County representative for the Heartland Disaster Recovery Group, said Dannebrog still has another year or two before it's back to normal.

She said the flood severely damaged more than 60 homes in Dannebrog, and impacted about 100.

Larsen said there are still 20 to 30 homes that need repairs. Even though there's more work to be done, Larsen said this kind of event is important for morale.

"I noticed in the last little bit, we kind of go through those eps and tides, and we were kind of on the down. Christmas is coming, and a lot of people lost their Christmas decorations. So stuff like this just keeps people happy," Larsen said.

Many people in town look forward to putting 2019 behind them.

"It's time for a new year," Porath said.

The Heartland Disaster Recovery Group is till taking donations to help people impacted by the floods this year. You can donate online.