SARGENT— The natural disaster that impacted the state in March was one for the record books. Millions of dollars have been recorded in damage from snow and flooding with the economic effects to most likely be felt for years.
As the state began to heal, certain areas have seen improvements and roads and bridges have been repaired or replaced, but other communities have never seen relief and in some aspects are still seeing water pour into their homes every time the sky opens up with even a small amount of rain. Sargent is one of those towns.
If you travel through Sargent, water is one thing that is very consistent. Water is being pumped out of houses, running through the streets, pouring into ditches, and creating health concerns that threaten to destroy the town if help does not head that way soon.
At a community meeting on August 19, over 100 community members packed the Sargent Community Center to hear updates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Emergency Management, Sargent City Administrator Reece Jensen, and many others.
Much of the meeting was spent answering questions from the public as concerns were brought forward on what to do with the water in town, mold in homes, and other issues. FEMA and NEMA informed the community that this was unknown territory because of the length of the disaster and the continued impact in Sargent.
Kevin Sur, FEMA public information officer talked about FEMA supporting Nebraska and all of the communities, “FEMA’s been here on the boots on the ground throughout the entire state of Nebraska supporting every local community we are here to support our local, county and state official throughout this devastating disaster and we want to be continuing support for everybody in Nebraska.”
Unfortunately, disaster assistance will take time and money, both of which Sargent is short on as the winter season is quickly approaching. Members of the public were extremely displeased when Reece Jensen told the public that the soonest progress could be made on beginning to fix the constant water issue was the spring of 2020.
“You feel sorry for everybody you really do but until we get this water table down, our hands are tied with what can really be accomplished. It’s just too muddy. Everybody thinks that you can start digging, but there is no place to go with it [the water],” said Jensen.
That water has not only the attention of federal agencies, but also Governor Pete Rickets who toured Sargent just a few hours before the meeting took place. According to those who toured with the Governor, it was mentioned that he was going to make sure everything that could be done, would be done, including submitting another disaster request to the President.
“It gives you hope that they are at least listening to our issues. I have to admire the governor, NEMA, and FEMA. They took the time out of their schedule. These guys are busy, we’re not the only ones with problems. We’re lucky enough that they came up to see [the damage] so it gives you a little encouragement for down the road.”
While both agencies understand the urgent need for help, they do ask that everyone be patient and allow for the process to take place.
If you are in need of disaster assistance, even if you were denied previously, or have questions call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). You can also register online at disasterassistance.gov
If you intend to call, please have the following available:
- Your address with zip code
- Directions to your property
- Condition of your damaged home
- Insurance information, if available
- Social Security number
- Phone number where you can be contacted
- Address where you can get mail