Spencer Dam

SHOWN IS the damage to the Spencer Dam after the dike broke loose and the rushing water left a path of destruction.

SPENCER — Hundreds of people remain without running water in Boyd County and they could be facing four to eight more weeks of the same.

That’s the word from Rex Black, president of the Boyd County Rural Water District, which is seeking to raise funds to help rectify the situation as soon as possible.

“We are trying to raise money to hire a contractor to bore a new water line,” he said Wednesday.

The water line, which feeds nearly all of Boyd County, was destroyed about two weeks ago when an 11-foot wave of ice and water took out the 90-year-old Spencer Dam.

Financial assistance likely will be coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but Black said it may take several years before the funds are provided. Plus, federal aid won’t cover the entire cost of the project.

“To bore a new line, the cost will be about $1.1 million. Right now, the Boyd County Rural Water District is trying to raise $400,000 to pay for its share of the boring, in addition to providing temporary water to the district,” Black said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to receive donations. It’s located online at http://bit.ly/SpencerDamFundraiser. As an alternative, checks can be sent to the Boyd County Rural Water District No. 2 disaster fund in care of Farmers State Bank, Box 217, Spencer, NE 68777.

Assistance available

The Salvation Army in Norfolk is reminding those affected by this month’s flooding that assistance continues to be available at 610 Norfolk Ave.

Those in need are encouraged to contact the Salvation Army for financial assistance, cleaning and hygiene supplies, brooms, mops, shovels, fans, water, pet food and diapers, among other items.

A photo ID and proof of address must be provided.

Office hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food pantry hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.

In addition to Madison County, the Salvation Army is providing assistance to residents of Antelope, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Knox, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, Thurston and Wayne counties.

Fencing supplies needed

Larry Cooper, the owner of the Verdigre Stockyards, has been helping to disperse needed farm items in Northeast Nebraska for those affected by the flooding.

He said the biggest need going forward is fencing supplies.

“It takes about $10,000 to put in a quarter mile of fence," Cooper said. "We have producers along the Niobrara who lost miles and miles. It’s going to be a huge burden to them to replace all that.’’

Farmers and ranchers in need of assistance should contact their local emergency manager. For more information, contact 800-831-0550. The department said current primary needs are hay, fencing, volunteers and equipment.

North 37th Street closed

Because of the failure of the road base and complete collapse of a culvert, North 37th Street in Madison County has been closed.

Rebuilding of the road is scheduled to begin immediately.

Travel to and from Pierce County should be detoured to Highway 81 and on Highway 98 into and out of Pierce.

“Our failing roads are not built to handle heavy truck traffic. Thawing of the road base in addition to high water levels make our roads especially vulnerable to heavy traffic at this time,” said Christian Ohl, a Madison County commissioner. “For those operating heavy equipment or heavy trucks, please do all you can to route your travel to highway systems. If possible, please delay your haul until ground and roads have dried.”

For Hadar residents, Pierce County is working on solutions to reopen the Kaneb road, Ohl said.

“We hope to see this route opened very soon,” he said.

The base of Old Hadar Road in Madison County has failed and requires significant rebuilding. Engineering is being completed to bid the project, Ohl said.

Lots of water

An epic amount of water and ice washed down the Niobrara River during this month's flooding.

Images of the scoured landscape and piles of ice show that vividly. And now there's another way to characterize the extraordinary nature of the flooding on that northern Nebraska river.

So much water was washing down the Niobrara that it would have filled Lewis & Clark Lake in one-half to three-fourths of a day had the lake been empty, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

And the water would have kept coming.

The Niobrara is the primary tributary feeding into the lake, which is formed by the Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River. The Corps operates the dam.

"We still would have been releasing a lot of water," said John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Management Division of the Corps of Engineers.

In response to the influx of floodwater into Lewis & Clark, the Corps upped releases from Gavins Point Dam by nearly five times normal. Various levels of high releases continued until inflows from the Niobrara River subsided.

Jobless program triggered

Workers who became unemployed as a direct result of flooding may qualify for unemployment assistance.

On Wednesday, Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin said the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program was triggered when President Donald Trump designated portions of the state a disaster area on March 21.

People who live in or worked in the Nebraska counties of Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders or Washington, and whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to the flooding, may be eligible for assistance.

“FEMA is continuing to review counties for individual assistance, and they will be added as they qualify. The department of labor will provide updates should additional counties become eligible,” Albin said.

Claims should be filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. All assistance applicants will be required to provide documents to verify wages.

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