Flood notes: Iowa centers open in Mills, Fremont Counties

Flood notes: Iowa centers open in Mills, Fremont Counties
Flooding in Hamburg, Iowa on April 2. (Photo Courtesy: Fremont County Emergency Management)

A joint state/federal Disaster Recovery Center opened Wednesday to help survivors of the recent severe storms and flooding get help with various disaster assistance programs.

The Mills center is at Glenwood Resource Center, 111 Lacey St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Iowa homeowners, renters and business owners in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Woodbury Counties — which were included in the major disaster declaration for Individual Assistance — may apply for assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses due to severe storms and flooding from March 12 and continuing.

The Fremont County center is at 2014 290th Ave. in Sidney. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Sun. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

$100 million price tag to fix Nebraska’s flood-damaged highways is a fourth of original estimate

Nebraska seems to have caught a big break on the costs to fix highways damaged by last month’s flood.

After initially estimating $429 million in state highway flood damage, the State of Nebraska now anticipates it faces $100 million in repair and rebuilding costs.

That’s no small number — but it’s considerably less than the damage officials estimated when floodwaters still covered roadways.

Tim Weander, the Omaha area district engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, updated the cost estimates at a press conference Thursday morning in Omaha. Out of that $100 million, the Omaha area faces some $20 million in rebuilding costs, he said.

For Omaha, officials are hoping the federal government will fully reimburse the $20 million in costs.

It’s still to be decided how all the costs ultimately will be spread between the state and the federal government through emergency funding. The federal government could fully reimburse the state’s costs on emergency repairs completed within 180 days, or pay back the state at 80 percent for other permanent repairs.

Weander said Thursday the state had requested $48 million in “quick release” funds from the Federal Highway Administration to expedite repairs.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Transportation Department announced Nebraska would receive $25 million in those “quick release” emergency funds. The Transportation Department called the grant a down payment on the costs of short-term repairs, what Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called “an important first step” as the state continues damage assessments for long-term repairs.

As the work proceeds, Weander asked for the traveling public’s patience.

“We will get to the roads as fast as we can,” he said.

Statewide, more than 2,000 miles of highway were closed due to flooding, said Jeni Campana, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Transportation. But as of Thursday, that has been reduced to less than 200 miles, she said.

In the Omaha metro area, an estimated 150 miles of highway were closed by flooding. That’s down to 30 miles.

Out of six projects that still needed work in the Omaha area, one has been completed and reopened: U.S. Highway 77 north of Fremont at Winslow.

Five more are progressing, including rebuilding West Dodge Road at Waterloo and West Center Road west of the Elkhorn River. Hawkins Construction of Omaha was chosen for the West Dodge project, which will need to replace a half mile of pavement in each direction.

Weander said the project can use previous construction plans for the job, without having to redesign the highway.

West Center is expected to take longer to fix. An entire bridge needs replacing, he said, and does need design work.

Constructors Inc. of Lincoln received the contract for that job.

Weander was cautious about estimating when all the flooded highways will be repaired and reopened. But he’s looking toward summer.

“I think summer we’re going to be pretty well back to normal.”

Bellevue police end checkpoints, roads reopen

Checkpoints to enter Green Acres and Paradise Lakes were removed Thursday, and security of the housing developments turned over to owners.

Harlan Lewis Road opened southbound from Paradise Lakes to Highway 34, and Highway 34 was opened westbound from Harlan Lewis. Eastbound Highway 34 remains closed.

American Heroes Park has reopened. Haworth Park remains closed.

Barricades will be placed at the entrances to Paradise Lakes since all homes have been declared uninhabitable.

The City of Bellevue said both residential areas are still highly contaminated and personal protective equipment should be used when entering the area.

Dodge County disaster center has a new home

A new flood disaster recovery center will open at noon Saturday in Dodge County.

Recovery specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration at the center will provide information on available services, explain assistance programs and help survivors complete or check the status of their disaster assistance applications.

After Saturday, the disaster center at the Fremont Learning Center, 130 E. Ninth St., will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A disaster recovery center at the Christensen Field House, 1710 Christensen Field Road in Fremont, will close Friday at 7 p.m.

Nebraska homeowners, renters and business owners in Boone, Buffalo, Butler, Cass, Colfax, Custer, Dodge, Douglas, Knox, Nemaha, Richardson, Sarpy, Saunders, Thurston and Washington Counties and the Santee Sioux Nation may apply for assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from the severe winter storm, straight-line winds and flooding.

How to register with FEMA:

• Online, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

• On a smart phone, download the FEMA app and click on “disaster resources,” then “apply for assistance online.”

• By phone, call FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS). Telephone registration is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time seven days a week.

There are dozens of ways to help those impacted by flooding