Sandbags Work to Save Home Near Tilden

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With roads closed, and the Elkhorn River flowing toward the South, one-by-one, towns along Highway 275 were threatened as well Monday, including the town of Tilden.

With more than 12 inches of rain in the past week, the Elkhorn River no longer flowed quietly through Tilden in Madison County.

Monday, Tilden was a torrent. That put Denis and Jeannene Kerkman's home of nearly 20 years in danger.

"We're surrounded by water. It started coming in the back here, and then, pretty soon, it went around to the east," said Jeannene.

Around 1 o'clock Monday afternoon, the Kerkman's driveway was completely dry and drivable. Just a few hours later, water began rushing across, making it nearly impossible to make it to their home.

Volunteers willing to lend a helping hand, braved the several feet of water down the driveway, to make it to the house, where the real work took place. More than 14,000 sandbags made their way to Antelope and Madison Counties Monday, for homes like the Kerkmans.

"Normally, if it starts to the West, it normally dissipates by the time it gets as east as Norfolk, and the rivers are better able to carry it, but this time, there has just been so much water, that the ground is saturated, and there isn't anywhere for it to go," said Faythe Petersen, Region 11 Emergency Manager.

"This is the worst we've had. One time, it was up over there, but nothing like this before. The closest it's ever got since we've been here is about 400 feet south of the house. It didn't rush there, it just overflowed the river," said Denis.

With more than four feet of water flowing through their backyard, and their home surrounded by bags of sand, the Kerkmans said all they can do now is just wait.

"No more rain. Please, no more rain," said Jeannene.

Thankfully, the Kerkmans do not have a basement. So, if the sandbags work, nothing inside their home will be damaged.

Nearly 100 volunteers, many unknown to the Kerkmans, turned out to help Monday.

In just a few hours at each place, many homes in the area were saved through community support.