Long-Term Flooding Recovery

Long-Term Flooding Recovery


>>RECOVERY FROM HISTORIC FLOODING EARLIER THIS YEAR WILL CONTINUE LONG AFTER THE WATER DRIES UP. WE’LL TALK WITH FEDERAL AND LOCAL OFFICIALS ABOUT LONG-TERM IMPACTS ON COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE STATE. PLUS WHETHER CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTED THE CAUSE OR SEVERITY OF THE NATURAL DISASTER. THAT’S TONIGHT ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” *>>THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” I’M NET NEWS DIRECTOR DENNIS KELLOGG. FOR THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS WE’LL BRING YOU IN-DEPTH DISCUSSIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, RURAL DRUG USE, AND PUBLIC LIBRARIES. TONIGHT A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BOMB CYCLONE THAT HIT THE STATE IN MID MARCH, CAUSING WIDESPREAD FLOODING WITH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DAMAGE AND AFFECTING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, HOMES, FARMS AND BUSINESSES. AS BILL KELLY OF NET NEWS REPORTS FROM THIS CLIP FROM THE DOCUMENTARY “AND THE FLOODS CAME,” THE DEVASTATION OF THOSE FIRST FEW WEEKS CONTINUES BURR SO DOES THE DETERMINATION TO MOVE FORWARD.>>THERE IS A MILE AND A HALF WIDE, 15-FOOT-TALL AND GROWING, ICE JAM ON THE NIOBRARA RIVER.>>IT LOOKED LIKE A WAR ZONE. WHEN YOU HAVE GIANT ICE THAT’S FLOWING THROUGH HOUSES AND LEFT MUD AND DEBRIS.>>SEND THE PAGE OUT NOW THAT THE ICE JAM AND THE CURRENT IS MOVING TOWARDS NIOBRARA NOW.>>IT TOOK SEVEN HOURS FOR THE WATER FROM SPENCER DAM TO HIT NIOBRARA, AND WHEN IT HIT, WE DIDN’T KNOW IF ANYTHING WAS GOING TO BE SALVAGEABLE IN THE COMMUNITY OF NIOBRARA.>>THE NIOBRARA TAKES A HARD TURN NORTH BEFORE FLOWING UNDER THE MORMON BRIDGE ON HIGHWAY 12 AND INTO THE MISSOURI RIVER. THE POPULAR COUNTRY CAFE SAT ON THE LOW LANDS WEST OF TOWN.>>AT 7:00 THURSDAY MORNING, GARY NIELSEN, WHO HAS NIELSEN GRAIN ACROSS FROM ME CALLED, AND HE SAID, “LAURA, WE’RE GOING TO GET WIPED OUT.”>>LOOK AT THAT. THAT IS JUST INSANE. THE CAFE IS STILL — IT’S STILL THERE.>>THE ICE SURROUNDING IT, THERE AIN’T NOTHING MOVING THERE.>>IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE ANYTHING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN NORTHEAST NEBRASKA. THAT WAS PROBABLY THE WORST FOR ME TO WATCH. CAN YOU IMAGINE YOUR HOMETOWN BE DESTROYED?>>PEOPLE KEPT CALLING AND TELLING ME, “WATCH THE VIDEO, THERE GOES YOUR ROOF.” SO IT WAS PRETTY DEVASTATING TO HEAR THAT NEWS AND NOT KNOWING BECAUSE YOU COULDN’T GET DOWN THERE TO SEE.>>IN NIOBRARA THE ROOF OF THE COUNTRY CAFE, ENCASED IN ICE, BECAME A SYMBOL OF THE FEROCITY OF THIS HISTORIC CYCLONE. AFTER CLEARING OUT THE ICEBERGS, VOLUNTEERS WENT TO WORK REBUILDING WALLS, REPLACING THE KITCHEN, REDECORATING THE DINING ROOM FOR A SUMMERTIME GRAND REOPENING.>>YOU CAN HAVE A SEAT WHEREVER YOU WANT.>>MARCH 13TH, DID YOU THINK YOU’D SEE THIS DAY?>>NO, NOT AT FIRST, YOU KNOW, MY OLDEST SON, HE SAYS, “MOM, YOU CAN DO THIS.” [ LAUGHTER ]>>I’M HAPPY TO HAVE MY JOB BACK. I’M HAPPY TO SEE ALL THE SMILING FACES COME THROUGH HERE.>>YOU MADE IT!>>THANK YOU.>>*>>NEARLY SEVEN MONTHS LATER, NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES ARE STILL WORKING TOWARDS RECOVERY. IT’S A FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL EFFORT. TO TALK ABOUT THAT WE’RE JOINED BY COL. CONNIE JOHNSON-CAGE, WHO COORDINATES THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY RESPONSE TO THE DISASTER HERE IN NEBRASKA. AND ALSO ELIZABETH TROYER-MILLER, WHO WORKS ON RECOVERY EFFORTS IN EAST-CENTRAL NEBRASKA. SO WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU.>>THANK YOU, APPRECIATE IT.>>COL. JOHNSON-CAGE, I WANT TO START WITH YOU. TELL ME RIGHT NOW, WHAT IS FEMA’S PRIMARY CHALLENGE THEY’RE FACING IN NEBRASKA?>>THE PRIMARY CHALLENGE – AND EVERYONE IN THE STATE CAN RELATE TO IT — IS THE WEATHER. WE HAVE BEEN RECEIVING RAINS EVER SINCE THE DISASTER IN MARCH. MARCH 21ST IS WHEN THE DECLARATION WAS MADE BY THE FEDERAL — THE PRESIDENT MADE THE DECLARATION, AND EVER SINCE, IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY OTHER WEEK WE’RE RECEIVING RAIN. SO IT’S ALMOST LIKE THE SURVIVORS CANNOT GET CONTROL OF THEIR RECOVERY. SO JUST BY CONTINUALLY WAITING FOR THE RAIN TO STOP AND FURTHER DAMAGE HAS TAKEN PLACE TO WHERE IT’S JUST HARD TO STAY ON TOP OF IT.>>IT HAS BEEN. THAT RAIN HAS BEEN NON-STOP. SO MANY COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE STATE ARE IN RECOVERY. THERE WERE EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS IN 104 CITIES, 81 COUNTIES, AND FIVE TRIBAL AREAS, SO WITH THE DAMAGE SPREAD ACROSS SUCH A WIDE, LARGE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA, HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE PROJECTS AND PRIORITIZE FEMA STAFF TO MAKE IT MOST EFFECTIVE?>>THAT’S A VERY GOOD QUESTION. AND STAFFING HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE, I WILL TELL YOU, WITH WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE OTHER FEMA REGIONS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES. THERE ARE CHALLENGES WITH STAFFING. SO WHAT WE HAVE DONE, WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IN THE STATE OF NEBRASKA IS UTILIZE LOCAL HIRES FOR STAFFING AND THAT’S BEEN A BIT OF A CHALLENGE FOR US AS WELL BECAUSE THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS SO SMALL HERE IN NEBRASKA TO WHERE WE HAD TO BE CREATIVE IN GETTING OUR LOCAL HIRES. FOR THIS PARTICULAR EVENT, TO INCREASE OUR STAFFING, WE’VE HAD OVER — WE WERE ABLE TO HIRE AT LEAST 38 LOCAL HIRES TO HELP REBUILD AND GET THE COMMUNITIES, GET EMPLOYMENT BACK INTO THE COMMUNITIES AND FUNDS INTO THE HANDS OF THOSE LOCAL HIRES. AS WELL AS BEING CREATIVE WITH THE CURRENT DISASTER STAFF. EARLY ON IN THE DISASTER WE HAVE WHAT’S CALLED THE RESPONSE PHASE. WE HAD CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE TRAINED FOR RESPONSE, WHERE THEY GO DOOR TO DOOR AND HELP APPLICANTS TO FILL OUT APPLICATIONS TO APPLY FOR FEDERAL SERVICE — FOR ASSISTANCE. AND WE’VE HAD — ONCE THE RESPONSE PHASE STARTED GOING DOWN JUST A LITTLE BIT, WE’VE HAD SOME OF THOSE FOLKS TO ACTUALLY CROSS THE AISLES, IF YOU WILL, AND VOLUNTARILY GO OVER TO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE TO HELP WITH THE RECOVERY EFFORTS. SO WE’VE HAD STAFF THAT’S BEEN ON THE GROUND FOR OVER 200 DAYS SINCE THE INCIDENT AND SINCE THE DECLARATION AND THEY’VE BEEN WILLING TO STAY LONG ENOUGH TO HELP SUPPORT IN NOT ONLY THE RESPONSE PHASE BUT THE RECOVERY PHASE AS WELL. SO IT HAS BEEN QUITE INTERESTING.>>YEAH, A LOT OF WORK TO DO FOR SURE. ELIZABETH TROYER-MILLER, YOU’RE THE OUTREACH COORDINATOR FOR HEARTLAND DISASTER RECOVERY GROUP. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT THAT GROUP IS.>>SURE. WE FORMED OUT OF THE MARCH FLOODS. IT’S A LONG-TERM RECOVERY GROUP THAT ACTUALLY MOVED FROM A LOCAL COAD, SO LIKE LOCAL ORGANIZATION RESPONDING TO DISASTERS TO A LONG-TERM RECOVERY GROUP, AND THE GROUP IS REALLY WORKING WITH INDIVIDUALS IN THEIR RECOVERY. WE FORMED TO SERVE HALL, HOWARD, HAMILTON AND MERRICK COUNTIES, BUT OUR PRIMARY FOCUS IS HALL AND HOWARD COUNTIES IN WOOD RIVER, DANNEBROG AND PARTS OF GRAND ISLAND. AND SO WE’RE WORKING WITH DISASTER CASE MANAGERS ON KIND OF A DAY-TO-DAY RECOVERY OF INDIVIDUALS IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.>>SO YOU’RE OUT THERE ON A DAILY BASIS, GIVE US AN IDEA OF WHAT IS THE SITUATION LIKE IN CENTRAL NEBRASKA? >>I THINK IT REFLECTS WHAT WAS SAID HERE, AS FAR AS KIND OF THE BIG PICTURE IS THAT WE’VE BEEN WET. IT HAS BEEN A STRESSFUL AND DIFFICULT SUMMER. AND, YOU KNOW, IT HASN’T NECESSARILY, DOESN’T LOOK LIKE THAT MUCH HOPE ON THE HORIZON AS FAR AS ALL THE RAIN THAT’S COME. WE HAVE INDIVIDUALS KIND OF IN HOWARD COUNTY WHO HAVE NEVER DRIED OUT. THEIR BASEMENTS WENT FROM LOTS OF WATER TO LESS WATER TO MORE WATER TO LESS WATER AND THEY HAVEN’T DRIED OUT AND THAT’S MADE IT REALLY DIFFICULT TO PUT FOUNDATIONS BACK TOGETHER, TO PUT BASEMENTS BACK TOGETHER, AND IT THINK THAT’S ALSO ADDED TO THE LEVEL OF STRESS. AND ONE OF THE THINGS, I KNOW THERE’S BEEN A BIG PUSH TO HOW DO WE CARE FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH OF INDIVIDUALS IN OUR COMMUNITIES, BUT I THINK THE WEATHER HAS ADDED TO THE STRESS AND COMPOUNDED A LOT OF LIKE THE TRAUMA PEOPLE EXPERIENCED THROUGH ALL THIS.>>ABSOLUTELY. I WANT TO GET TO THAT IN JUST A LITTLE BIT, BUT I DO WANT TO ASK YOU, COL. JOHNSON-CAGE, 7,000 NEBRASKANS APPLIED FOR FEMA INDIVIDUAL ASSISTANCE. IS THAT ABOUT THE NUMBER THAT YOU EXPECTED? AND I KNOW IT STARTED OUT SLOW AND PROBABLY GOT A LITTLE BIT BETTER AS IT WENT ALONG. HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROCESS?>>THE PROCESS WENT WELL, AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF THE DECLARATION, WE HAD BOOTS ON THE GROUND, SO TO SPEAK. WE HAD OVER 100 STAFF IN THE FIELDS AND IN THE COMMUNITIES LOOKING FOR APPLICANTS. SO WHETHER THAT’S THE NUMBER WE WERE LOOKING FOR, WE WERE PREPARED NO MATTER WHAT THAT NUMBER WAS. I THINK WE LANDED AROUND SUPPORTING OVER 5300 NEBRASKANS AND PUTTING ABOUT $72 MILLION BETWEEN FEMA AND THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, PUTTING THAT MONEY IN THE HANDS OF THE SURVIVORS EARLY ON.>>SOME OF THE NEBRASKANS WHO WERE ELIGIBLE FOR FUNDS JUST CHOSE FOR WHATEVER REASON NOT TO APPLY FOR THOSE FUNDS.>>THAT’S TRUE.>>WHY IS THAT, DO YOU THINK?>>I HAVE LEARNED BEING IN NEBRASKA — AND I’M FROM THE MIDWEST, I LIVE IN KANSAS CITY. WHAT I’VE LEARNED IS THAT THE NEBRASKANS ARE VERY PROUD INDIVIDUALS, WHICH IS AWESOME, AND THEY’RE ALSO COMMUNITY MINDED. THEY TAKE CARE OF THEIR NEIGHBORS. A LOT OF THEM, LIKE YOU SAID, HAVE DAMAGES THAT THEY COULD VERY WELL APPLY FOR AND RECEIVE BENEFITS OF THE RECOVERY DOLLARS BUT THEY CHOSE TO ALLOW THEIR NEIGHBORS OR SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE DOLLARS, WHICH IS VERY COMMENDABLE. AND YOU KNOW THAT ANY TIME THERE’S A DISASTER, RECOVERY STARTS AT HOME. IT STARTS WITHIN THE COMMUNITIES, BEFORE THE CALL IS EVEN MADE TO FEMA OR ANY OTHER ASSISTANCE, THEY TAKE CARE OF ONE ANOTHER AND I THINK THAT’S VERY ADMIRABLE FOR THE STATE OF NEBRASKA.>>SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF THEM FELT “MY NEIGHBOR’S WORSE OFF THAN ME.” >>ABSOLUTELY.>>”SO I’LL STEP BACK.” BUT SOMETIMES THAT MONEY THEN, IT’S THERE, SO THEY SHOULD BE APPLYING FOR IT.>>ABSOLUTELY, AND IT’S STRICTLY VOLUNTARY, THE APPLICATION IS VOLUNTARY.>>WELL, ELIZABETH, FEMA APPROVED MORE THAN $26 MILLION FOR INDIVIDUAL ASSISTANCE, AND THAT SOUNDS LIKE A REALLY LARGE NUMBER, BUT WHAT’S THE FINANCIAL REALITY FOR FAMILIES THAT ARE WORKING THROUGH THIS FLOOD RECOVERY?>>YEAH, IF ONLY IT WAS JUST LIKE, OH, WE GOT THE MONEY AND NOW WE CAN PUT OUR LIVES BACK TOGETHER, BUT IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE. IN HALL AND HOWARD COUNTY — AND I THINK THIS WOULD BE REFLECTED IN A LOT OF PLACES — THE DAMAGE WAS IN BASEMENTS, WHICH IS NON-ESSENTIAL LIVING. AND WE UNDERSTAND KIND OF BIG PICTURE, YOU CAN’T FUND AND FIX ALL OF THOSE THINGS, AND YET THAT’S INDIVIDUAL LIVES THAT BASEMENTS ARE ESSENTIAL. PEOPLE FEEL THAT WAS A LIVING SPACE, THAT WAS A PLAY SPACE, THAT WAS A KIDS’ SPACE, WHATEVER IT IS. AND THAT MONEY DOESN’T GO FAR IN PUTTING IT BACK. BASEMENTS KIND OF RANGE IF YOU HAD A FINISHED-OFF BASEMENT, YOU’RE LOOKING AT $20,000-$30,000 TO PUT IT BACK TOGETHER, AND IF YOU HAD FOUNDATION PROBLEMS, YOU’RE LOOKING AT CLOSER TO $50,000 AND SOMETIMES MORE. SO THERE’S NOT AN AMOUNT THAT CAN BE GIVEN AND SO PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO ACCESS SBA LOANS WHICH IS GREAT, BUT I DON’T THINK THERE’S UNDERSTANDING. THAT NAME IS REALLY LIKE MISLEADING, AND SO PEOPLE ARE OFTEN CONFUSED AND MISSED OUT ON OPPORTUNITIES FOR THAT LOAN. THAT WAS SOMETHING WE WORK ON ON OUR SIDE, IS TO TRY TO EDUCATE AND HELP PEOPLE ACCESS THE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO THEM.>>AND A LOT OF THOSE RESOURCES CAME EARLY, BUT ARE THEY STILL COMING AND ARE THEY STILL NEEDED?>>THAT’S A COMPLICATED QUESTION. ( LAUGHING )>>SO YEAH, THEY’RE STILL NEEDED. YOU KNOW, WHAT WE SEE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ARE THAT THE TIME TO REGISTER FOR FEMA ASSISTANCE, IT’S CLOSED. SO IF YOU DIDN’T GET YOURSELF REGISTERED, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ACCESS TO THAT, BUT PEOPLE ARE — THE RECOVERY HAS NOT HAPPENED, THIS IS A LONG THING. AND SO US WORKING FOR A LONG-TERM RECOVERY GROUP, WE KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE A YEAR OR TWO. THAT’S ON THE INDIVIDUAL RESIDENCE SIDE. WE KNOW ALSO INFRASTRUCTURE WISE IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT WE’RE WORKING WITH — WOOD RIVER, DANNEBROG — WE’VE GOT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DAMAGES, AND THAT’S NOT SOMETHING SMALL COMMUNITIES JUST HAVE LIKE, OH, WE HAVE THAT SITTING AROUND AND WITH A LITTLE FEMA ASSISTANCE WE GOT IT DONE. IT’S GOING TO TAKE A WHILE.>>RIGHT. AND WE WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT EVEN THOUGH IT HAS BEEN SIX AND A HALF MONTHS SINCE THE FLOOD, PEOPLE ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH THIS FROM A MENTAL HEALTH STANDPOINT, FROM A FINANCIAL STANDPOINT, AND THE RURAL RESPONSE HOTLINE IS ONE RESOURCE THAT’S AVAILABLE FOR NEBRASKANS. FARMERS AND RANCHERS CAN GET ADVICE ON STRESS, MENTAL HEALTH AND FINANCIAL TROUBLE. THAT NUMBER IS 1-800-464-0258. 1-800-464-0258. AND CALLS TO THE RURAL RESPONSE HOTLINE HAVE BEEN INCREASING. CALLS TO ASK ABOUT BANKRUPTCY OPTIONS INCREASED ABOUT 50% SINCE 2016, AND CALLS ABOUT DEBT COLLECTION HAVE TRIPLED. SO MY QUESTION, I GUESS, IS HOW ARE COMMUNITIES DEALING WITH THE MENTAL HEALTH IMPACT OF THE DISASTER AND ARE WE HELPING THEM, COLONEL?>>SO, FEMA DOES HAVE PROGRAMS THAT WORK WITH THE COMMUNITIES WITH REGARDS TO THE MENTAL HEALTH AND OTHER CHALLENGES THEY HAVE. SO I DON’T HAVE THE EXACT NUMBERS IF YOU WILL ON HOW THAT HAS BEEN IMPACTED BUT WE DO ENGAGE THOSE PROGRAMS AND THOSE PROCESSES AND MAKE THOSE RELATIONSHIPS EARLY ON IN RESPONSE JUST TO MAKE SURE WE GET TO THOSE COMMUNITIES AND TO THE SURVIVORS THAT ARE IN THE MOST NEED OF THE MENTAL HEALTH. BECAUSE THIS IS TRAGIC. THIS IS TRAUMATIC. EVEN IF IT’S ONE BASEMENT THAT WAS FLOODED, THAT’S A HUGE DISASTER FOR A FAMILY. SO THIS IS TRAUMATIC AND WE ARE VERY WELL AWARE OF THAT AND THAT’S WHY AGAIN WE PARTNER WITH COMMUNITY ENTITIES TO HELP SUPPORT THE SURVIVORS HELP SUPPORT THE SURVIVORS. AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS INFRASTRUCTURE OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF SUPPORT. THAT’S SOMETHING WE TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY.>>I THINK I WOULD ADD ON TO THAT TO SAY YOU GO BACK TO YOUR COMMENT ABOUT OBSERVING NEBRASKANS BEING PROUD AND KIND OF DO IT THEMSELVES AND I THINK THIS GOES INTO THAT AS WELL, THAT WE’RE STRONG, WE’RE STRONG PEOPLE, WE WANT TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITIES, AND THIS RECOVERY PROCESS IS GOING TO BE REALLY RELIANT ON COMMUNITIES COMING TOGETHER AND WATCHING OUT FOR THEIR OWN, BECAUSE FEMA’S GOT A LITTLE PIECE IN THIS RECOVERY PROCESS, BUT ONCE WE HAVE THE ASSISTANCE, WE’VE GOT TO RELY ON OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR RESPONSE, WATCHING OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER, KIND OF NOTING, OH, THIS PERSON NEEDS HELP. WHO CAN WE SEND TO THEM? WHETHER IT’S YOUR — THERE’S A LOT OF LONG-TERM RECOVERY GROUPS THAT ARE EMERGING OUT OF THIS, AND SO IF YOU CAN POINT PEOPLE TO THAT OR HELP PEOPLE GET CONNECTED, HELP PEOPLE GET CONNECTED TO WHETHER IT’S A FAITH COMMUNITY OR A MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER, SOMEBODY TO TALK TO, I THINK THAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT’S FLYING UNDER THE RADAR BUT I WAS AWARE THIS SUMMER, EVERY TIME IT RAINED, THE ANXIETY IN OUR COMMUNITY JUST RAISED BECAUSE WE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING SO HAPPEN. AND WOOD RIVER, LIKE, WE FLOODED AND THEN IN JULY WE ALMOST FLOODED AGAIN AND THAT WAS REALLY, REALLY STRESSFUL FOR PEOPLE.>>SO AS WE LOOK TO THE FUTURE, COL. JOHNSON-CAGE, I KNOW YOU’VE TALKED A LOT ABOUT BUILDING BACK BETTER. SO WE DON’T JUST WANT TO REPLACE BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES AND HOMES; WE WANT TO BUILD THEM BETTER, BE BETTER PREPARED FOR MAYBE THE NEXT ROUND OF DISASTERS. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT A LITTLE?>>ABSOLUTELY. SO FEMA IS WORKING VERY CLOSELY WITH THE STATE ON MITIGATION PROJECTS. WE HAVE OVER $55 MILLION DEDICATED AS RESOURCES TO HELP MITIGATE DAMAGES FOR FUTURE DISASTERS, SO TO HELP BUILD BETTER, STRONGER. AND WE HAVE A TEAM THAT I’M KEEPING DEPLOYED TO THE DISASTER AS WE GO ALONG IN THE RECOVERY PROCESS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE STATE HAS THAT RESOURCE FOR MITIGATION, TO MAKE SURE, AGAIN, WE REBUILD STRONGER BECAUSE NEBRASKA IS STRONG AND WE WANT TO KEEP IT THAT WAY AND TO HELP THEM REBUILD STRONGER AS WELL.>>AND ARE YOU SEEING THAT IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES, THAT WE’RE BUILDING DIFFERENTLY?>>YOU KNOW WHAT, I THINK IT’S TOO EARLY TO SAY. I THINK THAT’S WHAT THE GOAL IS. BUT IT IS A REALLY SLOW FOR PEOPLE TO KIND OF GET THEIR FEET UNDER THEM AND WORKING FEET UNDER THEM AND WORKING WITH THE PROCESS OF HAVING FEMA COME IN AND HELP LOOK AT THE DAMAGES IN THE COMMUNITY, THAT’S TAKEN A WHILE, AND IT’S TAKEN A WHILE TO GET THROUGH ALL THE PAPERWORK PIECES, LIKE THESE ARE REALLY SLOW STEPS AND I THINK IT CAN FEEL FROM AN INDIVIDUAL PERSPECTIVE, LIKE “NOTHING’S HAPPENING!” BUT THE MORE TRANSPARENT WE CAN BE ABOUT LIKE THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING, THIS IS THE TIMELINE THAT IT’S GOING TO BE AND BEING ABLE TO OFFER PEOPLE SOME BENCHMARK TIMELINES IS GOING TO HELP SO WE CAN SEE THAT THERE’S PROGRESS BEING MADE, BUT I DON’T KNOW THAT I CAN SAY LIKE “WE’RE SEEING IT,” BECAUSE IT’S SLOW. WE’RE STILL IN THE EARLY STAGES.>>WELL, AND ELIZABETH, YOU TALKED TO ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE HEARTLAND RECOVERY GROUP AND YOUR EFFORTS TO HELP GET THESE COMMUNITIES BACK TO A NEW NORMAL.>>YEP.>>IS THERE GOING TO HAVE TO BE A NEW NORMAL FOR BOTH FEMA AND LOCAL RECOVERY GROUPS?>>YES, THERE IS, AND I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW IS THAT WEATHER PATTERNS ARE CHANGING, SO NEW NORMAL IS BEING ABLE TO BE PREPARED AND BEING ABLE TO BE RESPONSIVE AND FIGURING OUT HOW WE DO THAT BETTER AND I THINK THERE’S REALLY GOOD EXAMPLES OF HOW COMMUNITIES CAME TOGETHER TO RESPOND AND BE RESPONSIVE IN THE DISASTER BUT WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO PROJECT AND THINK LIKE, OKAY, SO IF THIS IS GOING TO BE HAPPENING AGAIN, HOW DO WE DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT WITH INFRASTRUCTURE? HOW DO WE PREPARE SO THAT WE KNOW WHO IS GOING TO BE SHOWING UP WHERE WITH WHAT? SO I THINK THERE’S MANY THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE PUT IN PLACE.>>COL. JOHNSON-CAGE, HOW DOES THIS CHANGE FEMA? AS YOU ARE OUT THERE WHAT AS YOU ARE OUT THERE WHAT ARE THE LESSONS YOU’RE LEARNING ALONG THE WAY?>>PATIENCE AND COMMUNICATION IS MOST IMPORTANT. FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, WE HAVE A COMMANDING GENERAL STAFF MEETING AND WE’RE CO-LOCATED WITH THE STATE IN JOINT FIELD OFFICE. THE VERY BEGINNING, THE VERY FIRST MEETING THAT WE HAD, I TALKED ABOUT THE THREE CS AND THE E — COMMUNE INDICATED COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE, COORDINATE AND EDUCATE.>>THERE YOU GO.>>AND THAT’S SOMETHING WE’VE BEEN FOCUSED ON FOR THE ENTIRE DISASTER AND THE COMMUNICATION IS THE BIGGEST PIECE I THINK, AND THE EDUCATION. IT’S GETTING OUT INTO THE COMMUNITIES AND MAKING SURE THEY’RE AWARE OF WHERE THE TIMELINES ARE. YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT’S GOING TO TAKE AND SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO COMMUNICATE IS THAT RECOVERY IS A MARATHON, IT’S NOT A SPRINT. IT’S NOT A SPRINT. AND SO, AND AGAIN, WHILE AND SO, AND AGAIN, WHILE WE’RE GOING THROUGH THIS LONG RECOVERY PROCESS, IS THAT COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION IS MOST IMPORTANT JUST TO KEEP THE ANGST OUT OF THE SURVIVORS IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE WAITING FOR SUPPORT.>>AND ELIZABETH, JUST REAL QUICKLY AS WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, BUT I WANT TO ASK YOU, ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC?>>YEAH, IT DEPENDS ON THE DAY. TODAY, YES. I’M OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE I SEE I’M OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE I SEE THE WAYS IN WHICH COMMUNITIES ARE TURNING TO ONE ANOTHER, INDIVIDUALS AND AGENCIES, TO SAY LIKE HOW CAN WE DO THIS AND HOW CAN WE DO THIS TOGETHER? THAT’S WHERE MY HOPE IS, IN THE COMMUNITY RESPONSE. WE SAY IT STARTS IN THE COMMUNITY, ENDS IN THE COMMUNITY AND WE REALLY HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT. WE CAN’T RELY ON OUTSIDE RESOURCES TO FIX THIS FOR OURSELVES.>>ELIZABETH TROYER-MILLER OF THE HEARTLAND DISASTER RECOVERY GROUP AND COL. CONNIE JOHNSON-CAGE OF FEMA, COORDINATING THE EFFORTS IN NEBRASKA. THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR COMING IN AND TALKING WITH US ABOUT FLOOD RECOVERY EFFORTS HERE IN THE STATE.>>THANKS FOR HAVING US.>>APPRECIATE IT.>>THIS INTERVIEW AND TONIGHT’S PROGRAM ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE. JUST GO TO NETNEBRASKA.ORG/ SPEAKINGOFNEBRASKA.>>AS THE NATION AND THE WORLD DEBATE HOW BEST TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE, MANY WONDER WHETHER THE MARCH FLOODS ARE AN INDICATION OF THE IMPACT HERE IN NEBRASKA. JOINING US NOW TO EXPLAIN THE SCIENCE BEHIND FLOODS AND CLIMATE CHANGE IS NEBRASKA STATE CLIMATOLOGIST, DR. MARTHA SHULSKI. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US.>>THANK YOU.>>WELL, YOU WERE TELLING ME THAT OF THE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE RECEIVED SINCE THOSE DEVASTATING MARCH FLOODS, DEVASTATING MARCH FLOODS, ONE OF THE MOST COMMON IS DID CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSE THE FLOODS. IS THERE A SHORT ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION? >>YEAH, WHICH IS A GREAT QUESTION AND THE SHORT ANSWER THAT I LIKE TO THINK ABOUT IT IS HOW MUCH WORSE WAS IT MADE BY CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FLOODS IN MARCH, THEY WERE REALLY A PRODUCT OF SEVERAL DIFFERENT FACTORS THAT CAME TOGETHER AND TIMING IS EVERYTHING. IT WAS NOT ONLY THE BIG STORM THAT WE EXPERIENCED MARCH 13TH AND 14, BUT IT WAS THE CONDITIONS THAT WERE SET IN PLACE BEFORE THE STORM HIT AND THAT WAS THE SNOW PACK AND WATER EQUIVALENT THAT WAS SITTING ON TOP OF THE GROUND. IT WAS THE SATURATED GROUND AND FROZEN GROUND AND THEN WE GET SEVERAL INCHES OF RAIN THAT MELTS QUICKLY AND THERE’S ALSO A LOT OF ICE SITTING ON THE RIVERS. SO IT WAS ALL OF THESE EVENTS COMBINED THAT LED TO THESE VERY SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS.>>YOU SAID IT WAS LIKE WATER FALLING ON CONCRETE, I THINK.>>THAT’S RIGHT, YES.>>THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS LIKE. SO CAN WE EXPECT MORE MAJOR FLOODING OR MORE OF THESE MAJOR NATURAL DISASTERS DUE TO THE CHANGING CLIMATE?>>WELL, KIND OF ONE SIGNATURE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IS MORE EXTREME EVENTS, MORE HEAVY RAINFALL EVENTS, MORE EROSION, MORE FLASH FLOODING, THOSE KINDS OF EPISODES, SO UNFORTUNATELY THAT’S SOMETHING THAT WE CAN EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE MORE OF, AND ALREADY IN NEBRASKA WE WERE HIGHLY VARIABLE CLIMATE ANYWAY, JUST BECAUSE OF WHERE WE SIT ON THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT, BUT THAT’S SOMETHING THAT WE CAN EXPECT MORE OF.>>SO ALONG THOSE LINES, WE HEAR THE TERMS “100-YEAR FLOOD” AND “500-YEAR FLOOD” THROWN AROUND, BUT WHAT DO THOSE TERMS ACTUALLY MEAN?>>RIGHT, SO IT’S YOUR CHANCES OR YOUR PROBABILITY OF AN EVENT HAPPENING AND THE EVENT IN MARCH, THAT WAS CERTAINLY EXTREME EVENT. WHAT I LIKE TO THINK ABOUT IS NOT NECESSARILY ONE IN 100-YEAR FLOOD BUT A ONE PERCENT CHANCE OF HAPPENING, SO EVERY YEAR YOU DO HAVE A LIKELIHOOD OF THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENING, AND I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE TAKE A LOOK AT THOSE STATISTICS AND WHAT IS IT FOR OUR CURRENT CLIMATE AND THEN WHAT WILL THAT BE GOING FORWARD IN THE FUTURE CLIMATE.>>AND DO YOU THINK THERE’S ANYTHING THAT WE CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR THESE INCREASING SEVERITY OF THESE NATURAL DISASTERS?>>WELL, I THINK WE CAN TAKE AZ LOOK AT WHAT IMPACTS DID WE FEEL FOR THIS MARCH EVENT AND WHERE WERE WE MOST VULNERABLE, WHERE CAN WE MAKE IMPROVEMENTS GOING FORWARD AND LOOK AT ARE WE PLANNING FOR — ARE WE PREPARED FOR THIS CURRENT EVENT AND GOING FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE, HOW BEST DO WE REDUCE OUR RISK AND REDUCE OUR VULNERABILITY TO THOSE EVENTS HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE.>>ANOTHER THING YOU SAID, NEBRASKA’S WEATHER FUTURE IS DIFFERENT THAN NEBRASKA’S WEATHER PAST. TELL ME WHAT YOU MEANT BY THAT.>>YES, SO WE CAN TAKE A LOOK AT CLIMATE TRENDS THAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IN NEBRASKA. OUR TEMPERATURES HAVE WARMED ABOUT A DEGREE AND A HALF ON AVERAGE, WHICH IS ABOUT THE GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE INCREASE. BUT GOING FORWARD, THE CLIMATE MODEL PROJECTIONS TELL US THAT THE RATES OF CHANGE IS GOING TO BE MORE DRASTIC THAN WHAT IT HAS BEEN IN THE PAST. SO I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO KEEP IN MIND THAT OUR TEMPERATURES, OUR PRECIPITATION, THAT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT IN THE FUTURE THAN WHAT IT WAS IN THE PAST.>>SO IN THE REMAINING FEW SECONDS, SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF OUR CLIMATE IN NEBRASKA?>>I THINK IT’S SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO BE LOOKING AT AND PLANNING FOR BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED.>>ALL RIGHT, DR. MARTHA SHULSKI, THE STATE CLIMATE OFFICE DIRECTOR. THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING OUT AND GIVING US YOUR INSIGHT ON THIS ISSUE.>>YES, THANK YOU.>>YOU CAN WATCH THIS DISCUSSION AND READ MORE OF OUR STORIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU CAN FIND US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @NETNEWSNEBRASKA. [ MUSIC ]>>THE NET NEWS TEAM HAS BEEN FOLLOWING FLOOD RECOVERY VERY CLOSELY. SENIOR PRODUCER AND REPORTER BILL KELLY JOINS US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE DOCUMENTARY “AND THE FLOOD CAME.” BILL, YOU WERE OUT FOR THE LAST SIX AND A HALF MONTHS TALKING WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE IMPACTED BY THIS. WHAT ARE THE STORIES THAT STOOD OUT FOR YOU? >>ONE OF THE FRUSTRATIONS, AS YOU KNOW, THERE WERE SO MANY COMMUNITIES AFFECTED THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT AND NECESSARY TO NARROW IT DOWN PRETTY QUICKLY, BUT IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT WE WERE THERE, AND THE COUNTIES THAT WE SPENT THE MOST TIME IN, THERE WERE SOME PRETTY CONSISTENT THEMES. FIRST OF ALL, AS OF RIGHT NOW, IT’S NOT AS BAD AS PERHAPS SOME OF THE COMMUNITIES THOUGHT INITIALLY. THERE’S STILL A LOT OF STRUGGLES GOING ON, BUT IN TOWNS LIKE DANNEBROG THEY HAD UP TO A THIRD OF THEIR HOUSING STOCK THAT THEY FEARED WAS GOING TO BE DAMAGED AND THAT THERE WERE GOING TO BE A LOT OF HOUSES TAKEN DOWN. THERE ARE PROBABLY ONLY THREE RIGHT NOW THAT ARE ON THE CUSP. AND THAT APPEARS TO BE PRETTY NORMAL IN SOME OF THE OTHER COMMUNITIES, THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF WATER IN A LOT OF HOUSES, BUT NOW THAT THE WATER HAS RECEDED AND THEY HAVE GOTTEN IN THERE, PEOPLE ARE DOING OKAY. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE STILL STRUGGLING ON A PERSONAL LEVEL IN DEALING WITH MAYBE THE LACK OF INSURANCE, AND WE HEARD EARLIER ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL AID THAT SOME OF THE INDIVIDUALS ARE GETTING, AND TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER A HOUSEHOLD BUDGET AND ALSO AT THE SAME TIME, TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER A COMMUNITY’S BUDGET IN THE LIGHT OF THIS. COMMUNITIES ARE STILL HAVING TO DEAL WITH THINGS LIKE FIXING LOCAL ROADS AND THE LIKE. AND THAT’S GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE FOR THE NEXT THREE OR FOUR YEARS EVEN.>>I WAS JUST GOING TO ASK YOU HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO GO ON? WE HAVE INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES, WE EVEN HAVE SOME COMMUNITIES STILL DEALING WITH WATER ISSUES AND SEWER PLANTS. I MEAN, THIS IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING WE’RE GOING TO LIVING WITH FOR A WHILE.>>YEAH, I MENTIONED DANNEBROG, IN THEIR CASE THEY HAD TO MOVE THEIR TOWN HALL AND THEY MOVED IT TO ANOTHER BUILDING IN TOWN, BUT EVEN THAT HAS HAD A WHOLE LOT OF ISSUES AND THEY’RE GETTING — HAVING KIND OF A STRUGGLE WITH GETTING BASIC COMMUNITY SERVICES OR A NORMAL VILLAGE HALL UP AND RUNNING AND FILES READY AND STUFF LIKE THAT. AND THAT’S REPEATED TIME AND TIME AGAIN. THE OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUE IS COORDINATING WITH THE STATE. THERE ARE STATE HIGHWAYS COMING INTO SOME OF THESE COMMUNITIES THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE A BRIDGE WASH OUT, BUT THE ROAD IS STILL A MESS. AND BY THE NATURE OF PRIORITIES WITH THE STATE, THE FUNDING AVAILABLE, THE NUMBER OF CONTRACTORS AVAILABLE, THE CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS AVAILABLE — ALL OF THAT IS ALMOST CONSPIRING TO KEEP SOME OF THESE ROAD PROJECTS OFF COMMISSION, AND THE VILLAGES AND COMMUNITIES AND COUNTIES ESPECIALLY ARE HAVING TO STRUGGLE WITH THAT. COUNTY ROADS, A WHOLE OTHER ISSUE BECAUSE THE INDIVIDUAL COUNTY GOVERNMENTS ARE HAVING TO DIG DEEP IN THEIR POCKETS TO FIX AND REGRADE AND REGRAVEL THESE ROADS, ESPECIALLY WITH BAD WEATHER ALL YEAR, TIME AND TIME AGAIN.>>SO WHAT’S THE IMAGE YOU’RE GOING TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR SIX AND A HALF MONTHS OF REPORTING ON THIS?>>OH MY GOSH, I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I HAVE A SINGLE IMAGE. I DO THINK THE COMMUNITY OF NIOBRARA AND ALL OF THAT ICE THAT WAS PILED UP IN THAT COMMUNITY, BUT AS WELL, THE FACT THAT HERE’S A TOWN THAT ALTHOUGH IT WAS A FAIRLY SMALL BUSINESS DISTRICT THAT WAS COMPLETELY WIPED OUT, THEY HAVE DONE SUCH A GREAT JOB OF BRINGING THAT BACK AND FINDING WAYS TO DEAL WITH THAT AS A COMMUNITY.>>THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR REPORTING WITH US, BILL.>>THANK YOU, DENNIS.>>BILL KELLY, OUR SENIOR PRODUCER AND REPORTER. YOU CAN WATCH THE FULL DOCUMENTARY “AND THE FLOODS CAME” AND CHECK OUT ALL THE OTHER NET NEWS REPORTING ON THE FLOOD AT NETNEBRASKA.ORG/FLOOD. WE’VE LOOKED AT REPAIRS TO DRINKING WATER SUPPLY IN BOYD COUNTY, AN ARTIST USING THE FLOODS IN HER WORK AND A CELEBRATION OF RECOVERY IN NIOBRARA. THAT’S JUST SOME OF THE STORIES. AND WE’RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THIS STORY. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. WHAT STORIES OF THE NEBRASKA FLOOD STILL NEED TO BE TOLD? YOU CAN E-MAIL US AT [email protected] *>>THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” THANK YOU TO COL. CONNIE JOHNSON-CAGE, ELIZABETH TROYER-MILLER, AND MARTHA SHULSKI FOR JOINING US. ALSO BILL KELLY FOR HIS REPORTING AND ALL THOSE BEHIND THE SCENES WHO WORK TO BRING THIS SHOW TO YOU. NEXT WEEK WE’LL TAKE A LOOK AT MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN NEBRASKA, HOW REFORMS HAVE CHANGED THE APPROACH TO CARE AND WHAT PROGRESS STILL NEEDS TO BE MADE. UNTIL THEN, I’M NET NEWS DIRECTOR DENNIS KELLOGG. THANKS FOR JOINING US. * CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY

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