Ricketts issues disaster declaration for state following severe weather

June 29, 2018, 3:16 a.m. ·

Governor Pete Ricketts issued a disaster declaration for Nebraska on Thursday following an onslaught of severe weather that has caused flooding and damage across the state.

The declaration allows for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to direct the allocation of state resources from the governor’s emergency fund to help impacted communities.

“Flooding has had a major impact on counties across northeast Nebraska,” Ricketts said in a press release. “This declaration allows state funds from the governor’s emergency fund to help our communities in their response.”

Ricketts surveyed flood damage with the Nebraska National Guard in several northeastern Nebraska counties on a flyover Tuesday following heavy rain in the area.

While there are currently no concerns regarding life or safety issues, NEMA assistant director Bryan Tuma said a number of residents in the state are experiencing inconveniences such as flooded basements and limited access due to damaged roads and flooding.

Unfortunately, Tuma says the only thing these residents can do is wait.

“We’re gonna have to let the floodwaters recede and folks can get in and start doing damage assessments,” he said.

Tuma said he is hopeful the severe weather has passed, but warns that the state is not out of the woods yet.

“We’re hopeful we are going to turn the corner on this soon, but to be very honest with you we are looking at weather forecast information now and we still have the potential for rainfall over the weekend, especially in that northeast corner of the state,” Tuma said.

Tuma said the possibility of more severe weather on the horizon, compounded with current floodwaters, saturated ground and a Missouri River system sitting at capacity, could spell problems for the state.

“We’re asking everybody to be vigilant,” Tuma said. “…If they’re living in an area where they could have additional impact they need to be ready to react.”

Tuma said he does not believe the state would be in “dire straits” should more rainfall arrive, but he would expect minor to moderate flooding issues on the Missouri River.

Prior to the seemingly constant rainfall in June, much of Nebraska experienced dry conditions, with some portions of the state in the early stages of drought.

That has since changed, according to Tuma.

By next week, he says he doesn’t expect any areas in the state to be experiencing drought-like conditions.

“This has been one of the wetter Junes on record,” he said. “…We’ve gone from very dry to very wet in a short period of time.”