Weekly Column

Mar 18 2019

Nebraska Strong

Recently, a catastrophic storm swept across the state of Nebraska. The western part of our state was confronted with extreme blizzard conditions, while central and eastern Nebraska are grappling with historic flooding. Entire communities are underwater, roads are closed or washed away, bridges are down, and the lives of our people and livestock have been put at risk.

The devastation in many areas is beyond words.

In Osmond, high water levels forced businesses to close as water flowed through the town like a river. In what was once unthinkable, the Mormon Creek Bridge in Knox County succumbed to the power of the flood and washed downstream. As Bryan Tuma, the assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, told the Omaha World-Herald: The 2011 flooding was probably one of the bigger disaster events in our history. I think we can safely say ... this event rivals it.”

The impact of this “bomb cyclone” is felt from one side of the Good Life to the other. But when disaster strikes in our great state, Nebraskans always reveal their strength and true character.  

Over and over, stories of the heroic efforts of emergency responders and volunteers have surfaced. Brave Nebraskans using their personal boats, trucks, and planes to rescue those who are stranded by the raging currents. A state patrol officer even scaled a barbed wire fence to save the life of a baby calf that was frozen to the ground near Sidney. Neighbor helping neighbor. 

Tragically, a Columbus farmer lost his life while attempting to rescue others caught in the floodwater. His selfless act and bravery will never be forgotten.

I know that with courage and strength, Nebraska will rebuild, recover, and return stronger than before.

In the coming days, the state of Nebraska and Governor Ricketts will be working to assess the damage and send a request to President Trump for disaster aid. By law, the request cannot be made until the damages are assessed fully. I will lead our congressional delegation in a letter of support of the governor’s request to the president.

I want all Nebraskans to know that my office stands ready to do everything in our power to lend a helping hand in any way we can. We will continue to stay in close contact with Governor Ricketts and his staff to assist in coordinating efforts and aid to communities that need it.

For our farmers and ranchers who are dealing with these adverse weather conditions, I want to highlight the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Conservation Program. Both of these resources, along with the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish program, provide financial assistance in repairing damages. If you have questions or need assistance in utilizing these federal programs, please contact the Nebraska Farm Service Agency by visiting www.fsa.usda.gov/ne.

As Nebraskans know, this is about more than damage to our property, this is about our roots– our way of life is being affected in nearly every way. 

I take pride in the way that Nebraska has come together to respond. We don’t have strangers in times like these. In true Nebraska fashion, communities are rallying to help one another and endure, even if they aren’t affected by the floods themselves.

I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the state and local officials who are helping our citizens through this challenging and difficult time. We are forever grateful for what you do and your life-saving efforts. My prayers will continue to be with every person who is affected by this storm.

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