Fort Report: The Flooding
Josh Moenning is the Mayor of Norfolk and a close friend of mine. Given the ongoing flooding, over a third of Norfolk had to evacuate because of rising water concerns. I texted Josh, and I called him. He did not answer me––and I am glad he didn’t. I know he is busy taking care of things, as are so many other local and state officials, our Nebraska National Guard, and first responders.
Down the Missouri River, I reached out to my friend Mayor Paul Lambert of Plattsmouth and the City Administrator Erv Portis. Their water systems have been inundated. Both men have been through this before, but it looks worse than the 2011 flood. They also report, though, that the Corps of Engineers is in good cooperation with them to manage circumstances.
For all of you that are affected by this flooding, I hope you are comforted in knowing that we have outstanding state and local officials—from the Governor’s office to Natural Resource District personnel to our military at Offutt and Strategic Command—working to protect you and restore good order to our communities.
Ultimately, two things happen in difficulties and tragedy. We seem to find the best in one another as neighbor helps neighbor. Second, it reminds us that America’s system is designed with multiple layers of government—not necessarily to have more government but to have the right type of government in position to respond when there is a public need. In situations like this when there are local disasters, the people on the ground are the most empowered to respond.
I am also pleased that three of my staff in Nebraska have served in local government and are capably assisting when needed. Former Madison County Commissioner Lee Klein is based in Norfolk. Former Mayor Rita Sanders is in Bellevue and maintaining communication with the base and emergency personnel in Sarpy County, particularly as the levee situation is closely monitored. Kim Kwapnioski lives in Columbus and currently serves as a Platte County Supervisor. Winds were hampering Columbus’ earlier rescue efforts.
After the flood waters recede, we will work with the state and local communities on any needs they have as they seek federal assistance. But, for now, I hope all of you are safe. And I want to thank everyone who is expending themselves to protect our communities.