Weekly Column

Mar 20 2023

Camp Ashland Restored

Four years ago this month, our home of Nebraska experienced a uniquely challenging natural disaster. A severe winter storm, a bomb cyclone, caused historic levels of flooding from Nebraska rivers, resulting in the tragic loss of life as well as destruction to homes, businesses, infrastructure, and farmland.

The Missouri River and rivers across our state overflowed, wreaking havoc. Floods rushed from the Platte River toward the Nebraska National Guard’s Camp Ashland, inflicting overwhelming damage on the area. The flooding caused the worst disaster in the base’s century-long history.

As the waters rose, 51 of the 62 buildings in Camp Ashland were heavily damaged or destroyed. As I told the defense community in 2020, you can’t put a price tag on how much the 2019 floods disrupted Camp Ashland’s critical daily operations. Camp Ashland is essential to regional training programs — including Basic Leader Courses, Officer Candidate School, and Warrant Officer Candidate School. Without the appropriate facilities, the Nebraska National Guard had to overcome incredible hurdles to accomplish its training mission for more than 100,000 soldiers across the region each year.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since the floods, but things have changed since March 2019. Last week, in March 2023, I had the privilege of visiting Camp Ashland for a ribbon cutting ceremony marking its official reopening. Today, Camp Ashland is restored.

Major General Bohac, Adjutant General, and the Nebraska National Guard displayed perseverance and resilience in the face of this significant natural disaster. Their work was instrumental in restoring Camp Ashland. General Bohac showed exceptional leadership and guided the National Guard in responding quickly to an unexpected and tremendously difficult catastrophe.

The Nebraska National Guard partnered with elected officials, including me, to rebuild Camp Ashland as efficiently as possible. I’m proud of how our teams worked together to advocate for this critical military base. We alerted the Department of Defense to the scale of the disaster at Camp Ashland and pushed for the resources we needed to get things back on track.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I authorized federal funding to rebuild Camp Ashland in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. We secured over $35 million in funding, allowing for the reconstruction of the camp. That money went toward replacing administrative offices, classrooms, and barracks — the essentials of a training center like Camp Ashland. I authorized an additional $8.5 million to repair and extend the levees located on the south of the camp, to ensure our National Guard base is protected from future flooding.

Today, Camp Ashland is back — and that’s the result of years of teamwork repairing the damage inflicted by the 2019 floods. Camp Ashland’s renewed facilities are ready for our brave men and women to resume their operations. Thanks to the cooperation and dedicated leadership of our National Guard and government, Camp Ashland will continue in its important training role for decades to come.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.