Beemer hit hard by flooding

HERE'S A VIEW of the Beemer Park from the top of the Beemer Grain elevator. This view is looking south toward the Beemer Ballroom, with the golf course off to the bluffs in the background.

BEEMER — With the Elkhorn River out of its banks — extending through the community park and over Highway 275 and reaching businesses on Main Street here Friday — Beemer residents are dealing with what likely is the worst flood in the town’s history.

“These are times where you are going to find out how good your insurance man and your banker is,” said Doug Throener, general manager of Beemer Grain. “Hopefully, they are by your side because this pretty much is the old ‘thick and thin.’ ”

Despite all the water on Highway 275 — in some places more than a foot deep — Throener was unloading grain to farmers in the area Friday afternoon who needed feed for their livestock.

“It’s pretty tough,” Throener said. “The animals need feed, so if they (farmers) don’t have a far distance to travel, they come in and get it.”

As is the case in many other parts of Northeast Nebraska, there are many outlying roads that are closed near Beemer.

Throener said the local farmers know their roads better than anyone, so they know where they can get their trucks and tractors through to load up on feed and seed.

Lots of businesses have been affected in Beemer, including the nearby lumber yard. It’s been an odd visual for residents here as, all of a sudden, there will be lumber floating by in the flood waters, Throener said.

“We’re dragging and snagging boards as they are coming by,” he said.

But when it comes to keeping businesses open, the people of Beemer will do what they have to do, he said.

The customers also understand if the businesses aren’t fully functional for a few weeks, he said.

“It’s what we have to do. People are understandable, too. We just have to keep pushing forward. It’s better than sitting at home wondering what you are going to do,” he said.

Mayor Doug Steffensmeier said the bank and insurance building on Main Street were able to avoid water getting inside because of sandbagging.

Steffensmeier said he would express his appreciation to the Beemer Volunteer Fire Department, whose members helped to get people evacuated and assisted with what needed to be done.

And by Friday afternoon, it looked as though the water was starting to recede, he said.

Steffensmeier said this is probably the worst the flooding has ever been in Beemer. He recalled once in the 1960s when the water overflowed the park, but the old railroad tracks previously operated as a berm and kept the flooding from reaching the highway or Main Street, he said.

Frazier Creek was the first area to flood on Tuesday, but then the water receded. Next it started to come up on Highway 275 because of ice jams on the Elkhorn River.

“You wouldn’t believe all the ice there was on the highway between Wisner and Beemer,” he said.

There have been infrastructure issues in Beemer, including the wastewater treatment plant that had to be shut down. There also have been some sewers that backed up, but residents are resilient, Steffensmeier said.

“The next few days are going to be (important) because we don’t know what all the devastation is yet,” Steffensmeier said.

So far, the bridge over the Elkhorn River is still standing, he said, but it is not known how much livestock has been lost or ground washed away.

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Rail disruptions caused by last week’s flooding could create challenges for area industries for some time to come.