Ricketts declares statewide day of prayer for flood victims

Ricketts declares statewide day of prayer for flood victims
World-Herald News Service

Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed a proclamation declaring Sunday as a Statewide Day of Prayer for Nebraskans affected by the flooding and disastrous conditions throughout the state.

“Nebraska has experienced the most widespread natural disaster in state history,” Ricketts said. “This coming Sunday, we are asking Nebraska to lift our state up in prayer.

“As Nebraskans roll up our sleeves and work together on recovery efforts, we ask God for wisdom in seeing and best responding to the needs around us.”

Donations arrive at UNMC campus in Omaha

A truck from MAP International arrived Monday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center with 15 pallets of donated health supplies.

The pallets were delivered to the Flood Relief Donation Management Center for UNMC, Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The items, which include respirators, gloves, overalls, scrub sponges, outdoor protective eyewear, tote bags, health kits, twin-blade razors, adult diapers and exam gloves, were donated from multiple corporations.

MAP International is a faith-based nonprofit that provides medicines and health supplies to mission clinics and hospitals in 104 countries around the world. Based in Georgia, MAP serves people in need during natural disasters and those living in impoverished communities.

Donations by the public are being accepted for protective equipment, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items. For information about items the public can donate, call 402-836-9379.

Donations may be by dropped off at 601 S. Saddle Creek Road from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public also can request needed supplies, access an array of community resources and safety information.

The UNMC website for monetary donations is https://app1.unmc.edu/forms/chancellor/floodaid/.

Disaster resource center to open at Southroads

Starting Thursday, flood victims will have another Omaha-area place to go for help.

The Salvation Army Western Division will open a third Disaster Resource Center Thursday morning. This new center, which aims to serve the people of Sarpy and Cass Counties, will be inside the former J.C. Penney store in Bellevue at Southroads Mall, 1001 Fort Crook Road, Suite 250. The center will be open every day. Hours Monday through Saturday are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

There are two other centers open: one in Omaha near 84th Street and West Center Road and another in Council Bluffs at 715 N. 16th St.

State transportation officials plan open houses in Norfolk, Niobrara

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will be holding open house meetings in communities affected by the severe flooding last month.

Representatives from the department will provide updates on transportation-related response and recovery efforts in the area and will answer questions. All members of the public are welcome.

Dates, times and locations for the open houses:

» Wednesday, 10 to 11:30 am: Ponca Tribal Headquarters (2523 Woodbine St., Niobrara)

» Friday, 10 to 11:30 am: Northeast Community College Lifelong Learning Center (701 E. Benjamin Ave., Norfolk)

I-680 at the Mormon Bridge may open one lane in each direction later today

One lane of Interstate 680 may open in each direction at the Mormon Bridge over the Missouri River sometime Tuesday evening, transportation officials from Nebraska and Iowa said.

I-680 was closed in mid-March because of flooding on the Iowa side of the river.

Marvin Lech, a district construction engineer with the Nebraska DOT, said construction on the bridge already was going to reduce traffic to one lane each way for the summer. The Iowa Department of Transportation also will need to do shoulder work on I-680, he said.

A spokeswoman for the Iowa DOT said officials hope to be able to open 680 sometime Tuesday evening, but the timing was unclear at midday.

Fremont disaster recovery center to open

A disaster recovery center will open at 7 a.m. Wednesday in Fremont.

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

The center will be in the community room at the Christensen Fieldhouse, 1710 Christensen Field Road. It will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The center will move to a new location soon. Public notice will be provided.

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 recent flooding, straight-line winds and the severe winter storm.

To register with FEMA online, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov

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. CDT seven days a week.

For more information on Nebraska’s disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4420.

What about other counties?

Eighty-one Nebraska counties have emergency declarations, and 15 so far, plus one tribal area, have been approved for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Additional counties still are in the process of working with state and FEMA officials to verify damages, said Bob Howard, a FEMA news desk manager. He said he expects more counties to be approved as preliminary assessments are completed.

The initial counties were approved more quickly because Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts asked for an expedited declaration, Howard said. That involved a flyover to indicate the breadth of the disaster. It was immediately granted by President Donald Trump. Other counties, Howard said, will go through a normal process of preliminary assessments before they’re added to the declaration.

Howard said the goal of federal disaster assistance is not to “make a family whole.”

“We’re looking at if a home is habitable and what it would take to make it habitable,” Howard said. “It’s not to return it to pre-disaster condition. It’s to make it safe, sanitary and secure.”

Food bank plans mobile pantries

Food Bank for the Heartland is hosting free mobile pantries throughout the state with both shelf-stable and fresh items for individuals and families in need.

A list of the April mobile pantries on the Food Bank’s web site: https://foodbankheartland.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/MobilePantry_April.pdf

Additional mobile pantries are being scheduled. About 5,000 pounds of food and supplies are being distributed.

In all, 450,000 pounds of disaster relief products have been delivered to Food Bank for the Heartland, and 80,000 pounds have been distributed to date. The top items requested are disaster pantry boxes of nonperishables and water

Assistance available for lost livestock

Nebraska ag producers who have lost livestock because of extended cold or above-normal precipitation since January can reach out to their county Farm Service Agency office to apply for assistance from the Livestock Indemnity Program. The deadline to apply is April 29.

The program compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to an adverse weather event. The payment rate is based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock.

A livestock producer must file a notice of loss within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is first apparent.

For more information, or to locate a county FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov.

USDA offers other help, too

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping Nebraskans as they recover and rebuild. For a list of all the programs available, please go to https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.

{span}In Nebraska, the USDA has several crews conducting aerial surveillance in the federal designated disaster areas looking for stranded livestock. If you see stranded or deceased livestock, please report it to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at 877-253-2603. USDA has contractors in place to remove livestock carcasses.{/span}

Texas riders will make flood donations

Four show-jumping riders from Texas who will be competing in the Burlington Capital International Omaha beginning Thursday at the CHI Health Center Omaha have offered to donate a percentage of their winnings to help victims recover from damages caused by the recent flooding in Nebraska.

“We Texans, as a group, wanted to support our friends and fellow horsemen from Nebraska during this difficult time,” said former International Omaha Grand Prix winner Matt Cyphert of Woodhill Farm in Argyle, Texas. “We have enjoyed the hospitality of Nebraskans at the International Omaha over the years and wanted to help with the flood-relief efforts in some meaningful way.”

Cyphert is part of the contingent of four Texans contributing to the effort, a list that also includes four-time International Omaha Grand Prix winner Christian Heineking, Trapp O’Neal and Frank Owens.

The Omaha Equestrian Foundation plans to offer other ways for visitors to donate to flood relief including an online silent auction and an informal “Pass the Boot.”

The Burlington Capital International Omaha runs through Sunday. Tickets start at $12.50 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets. Free activities include the family-friendly Triple Crown Horse Discovery Zone, Boutique Shopping Village, the Tailgate Lounge, the Pampered Pony Salon and Wine Alley.

Assistance offered for hearing, visual aids lost to flooding

The Nebraska Public Service Commission is offering disaster relief for recipients of the Nebraska Specialized Equipment Program  affected by this spring’s weather.

“Having the ability to communicate is an important part of the recovery process,” Commission Chair Mary Ridder said.

Persons residing in counties identified by FEMA as qualifying for individual and/or public assistance are eligible to apply.

Applications are available at the PSC website TRS/NSTEP Consumer Information page. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 30.