As the flooding continues across Nebraska, farmers and ranchers are assessing the damage and starting the recovery process. Flood crests on the Missouri River at Nebraska City, Brownsville, and Rulo have exceeded the all-time historic record by over 4 feet. Severe livestock loss has been reported, and a large percentage of the State’s most productive farm ground will go unplanted this year.
Flooding has been so bad at Offutt Air Base that aircraft have been relocated. Over a third of the base is flooded, with runways and some buildings under water. Across the state, 96 cities have declared emergencies, along with 79 counties and five tribal areas.
Governor Ricketts and President Trump have declared an emergency. The governor has said that Nebraskans are facing “the most widespread destruction we have ever seen in our state's history.”
Those affected by the flooding can visit the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) website at nema.nebraska.gov. NEMA has information on how to assess the ongoing conditions, and how to return home to flooded locations and start the process of recovery. You can also find the complete roster of county emergency management directors and coordinators on NEMA’s website.
The American Red Cross, church-based response teams, and many other private volunteers are already working to answer the need that exists. That need will continue to be great as neighbors help neighbors to rebuild. Our fellow Nebraskans are generous, but any person seeking to make a financial contribution to the relief effort should make sure that gifts are to reputable, established charity organizations.
The impact this disaster will have on state and local budgets will be significant. There are hundreds of miles of roads that will have to be completely replaced or repaired. Scores of bridges that were seriously damaged — or totally destroyed and washed away — will have to be addressed, too. The estimated damage to buildings, infrastructure, livestock, and crops in Nebraska is at $1.4 billion and climbing.
These pressures will mean that property tax relief efforts are up against even greater challenges this session. What I will remind my colleagues is simple: Nebraska is an agricultural state. Agriculture is already in crisis from property taxes, and now the blizzards and flooding have hit agriculture, too. I will fight for a budget that dedicates real dollars to lowering the property tax burden. If we do not act now, the property tax crisis will remain after our fields and farms have dried out. Property tax relief is disaster relief for farmers and ranchers.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.