Officials Talking Flooding Preparedness While it's Dry

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Dry weather now is a far cry from the flooding parts of Nebraska have experienced the last two years, but floodplain and stormwater managers say the time to learn is now.

"A year like last year, it can happen any year," says Lori Laster, Chair of the Nebraska Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association. "You know people talk about the 100 year flood and that doesn't happen every 100 years, it can happen once a month."

Professionals talked changes in levy regulations and about putting mitigation plans in place at this year's Managers Association Conference in Kearney.

Region 15 Emergency Management Director Pat Gerdes says floods were a concern last year in parts of Phelps and Gosper Counties as the Platte River rose.

He says finding out ways of informing the public now about the steps they need to take is important.

"Make sure people understand where floodplains might lie and what kind of dangers might be depending on their particular properties," says Gerdes. "There are folks out there that probably live in floodplains and don't even know it."

FEMA Insurance Program Specialist Monique Pilch says it's important that people find out now if they need flood insurance and assess what kind because obtaining it can take some time.

However, during the 2010 central Nebraska flooding some property owners said their flood insurance wasn't paying off. Pilch says it's important to remember there is an appeals process if they're not satisfied with initial assessments, and says FEMA Region 7 or insurance advisors can help with that.

"You don't have to stop at that very first assessment, you can definitely go through, appeal it, and there are multiple appeals that can take place," she says. "Ultimately the fourth and final appeal would be one made to FEMA Headquarters."

But whether it's property owners, emergency managers, or private companies planning for flooding, officials say it's important to do it now when the waters aren't rising because implementation and recovery are not short processes.

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