(click on podcast page to hear Wednesday’s news conference)
Governor Pete Ricketts and state and federal officials provided an update on flood relief efforts Wednesday and the upcoming severe weather that will impact the state.
“Nebraska has experienced a significant amount of severe weather, flooding, and precipitation over the last few months,” said Governor Ricketts. “Nebraskans should watch the forecast closely these next few days, and be prepared for blizzard and severe weather conditions. As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared, so we can keep people safe.”
Updates from state and federal agencies can be reviewed here:
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recently declared 12 more counties eligible for Individual Assistance.
o Those counties are: Antelope, Boyd, Burt, Cuming, Hall, Howard, Madison, Nance, Pierce, Platte, Saline, and Stanton.
- That brings the total number of counties designated for Individual Assistance to 27, as well as the Santee Sioux Nation.
o The other counties previously approved are Boone, Buffalo, Butler, Cass, Colfax, Custer, Dodge, Douglas, Knox, Nemaha, Richardson, Sarpy, Saunders, Thurston and Washington counties and the Santee Sioux Nation.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
- NEMA is coordinating with state and federal agencies on both the response to last month’s disaster and monitoring weather conditions as the impending severe weather moves across the state.
- Currently, the state has received declarations from:
o 104 Communities
o 81 Counties
o 5 Tribal Nations
- People in shelters have decreased to 56 with the numbers continuing to decrease daily.
- The state is setting up a Housing Task Force with FEMA to address housing shortages and unmet needs in Nebraska communities including Fremont and Bellevue.
- The state is working with communities that have water treatment and waste water concerns. A pipe installation under the Niobrara is pending in Boyd County following the upcoming severe weather.
- NEMA has a Request for Information to the Department of Administrative Services to solicit information from private sector companies who may be able to provide resources to the recovery.
- NEMA encourages people who suffered losses in the March storm to register with FEMA. There are a variety of free legal resources available through FEMA.
- NEMA would like to thank the many volunteers who are helping with recovery from this disaster.
Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT)
- Crews are prepared for another spring snow storm which looks to impact a good portion of the State Wednesday through Thursday. Forecasts call for Blizzard conditions in western Nebraska with heavy and significant snow along with high winds. High winds, up to or even greater than 55 mph in some parts of the State, will have significant impact on visibility and high profile vehicles. Workers and equipment will be out to clear the highways and monitor changing conditions throughout the storm.
- Travelers are advised to be alert, be aware and check the most up-to-date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available at all times via phone by dialing 511, online at www.511.nebraska.gov, or via Nebraska 511’s smartphone app. Travelers are also encouraged to utilize NDOT’s Plow Tracker at https://plows.nebraska.gov/index.html where the public will be able to observe road conditions in real time from the cabs of NDOT Snow Plows. Please note that weather conditions are often worse than they appear on camera.
- Should travel be absolutely necessary, NDOT reminds motorists to be prepared with warm clothing, water, and food. Be sure to travel on well-established routes and notify someone when you are leaving for your destination. If traveling a distance, a winter weather survival kit is advised with additional basic items. Travelers are advised to not drive faster than conditions allow. Surfaces will be slick under the snow and visibility may be poor. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
- With snowplows out on the roads, travelers are urged to be cautious and courteous to those operating them.
- Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seat belt and children are in a car safety seat. Do not use cruise control in wet or snowy weather and keep a full gas tank.
For safe-driving tips and winter weather information, visit NDOT’s website, http://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/winter/.
Nebraska National Guard
Sixteen hay bales were dropped Tuesday in Greeley County by the National Guard.
Nebraska State Patrol (NSP)
- As Nebraskans continue to deal with the aftermath of the last major winter storm, the Nebraska State Patrol is urging preparedness for another dangerous winter storm projected to impact the state Wednesday and Thursday. The National Weather Service is projecting as many as 18 to 24 inches of snow in portions of north-central Nebraska. With winds in excess of 50 miles per hour, blizzard conditions are expected to impact a large portion of central to western Nebraska.
- Motorists are encouraged to stay up-to-date on forecasts and conditions during the storm and to plan ahead as travel may become difficult or impossible in some areas.
- Nebraska 511 is the best resource to monitor road conditions and closures. Motorists can also view real time conditions with the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Plow Tracker system.
- Troopers will be on the road to assist any driver who needs help. Anyone in need of assistance can call *55 from a cell phone to reach the NSP Highway Helpline to speak directly with an NSP dispatcher.
- Drivers are urged to maintain a winter weather survival kit in their vehicle with necessities in case they become stranded at any point of travel during the storm.
As a reminder, the NSP Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. Drivers can reach NSP by dialing *55 from any cell phone. Call 911 for any emergency.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- To date, FEMA has dispersed nearly $13.7 million in financial assistance to households affected by the disaster. This includes money to rent a temporary place to stay, make basic repairs to a home and other forms of assistance.
- Disaster recovery centers are open, or scheduled to open, in Boone, Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders, Thurston, and Washington counties. More will be announced soon.
- We are monitoring the severe weather situation and will alert the public if weather impacts the operating schedules for some disaster recovery centers.
- Currently, the only center that has closed for inclement weather is in Knox County.
- The National Flood Insurance Program has paid $6.4 million in flood claims to date.
- Understanding Your FEMA Letter: If you applied for assistance from FEMA, you will receive a letter in the mail or via email that explains the status of your application and how to respond. It is important to read the letter carefully. Your letter will include the amount of any assistance FEMA may provide and information on the appropriate use of disaster assistance funds. You may need to submit additional information for FEMA to continue to process your application. If you have questions about the letter, you may go online to DisasterAssistance.gov; call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY); or visit a disaster recovery center. To find center locations and hours, go online to FEMA.gov/DRC or download the FEMA mobile app. If you disagree with FEMA’s decision, or the amount of assistance, you may submit an appeal letter and any documents needed to support your claim.
Small Business Administration
- Updated information as of this morning show the Small Business Administration has approved nearly $2.5 million dollars in disaster assistance loans to businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters to recover from the Nebraska March severe winter storm, straight-line winds and flooding.