Hurricane Ian: Nebraska couple endures another flood

‘We’re Nebraska Strong, and we’ll be back.’
After surviving a flood of the century in Nebraska a Waterloo couple moved their business to Florida.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:00 AM CDT
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FORT MEYERS BEACH, Fla. (WOWT) - After surviving a flood of the century in Nebraska, a Waterloo couple moved their business to Florida. Now they are in the midst of a historic hurricane.

They are relying on their Nebraska roots to be strong. During the 2019 flood isolating Riverside Lakes near Waterloo, Nebraska, Tj Holzapfel learned in a natural disaster you need tongue-in-cheek perseverance.

“Everyone out here wanted to live on an island but this isn’t what we were talking about,” said Holzapfel.

Tj’s physical and emotional strength is being tested again.

“We’re scared, and we’re frustrated. All the things you can imagine when your house is under 10 feet of water,” Holzapfel said.

Earlier this year, Tj and wife Lisa Lahners moved from Riverside to the beachfront. Their Fort Myers RUDE Shrimp Co. opened in March, winning awards right away.

“People who came down when we were getting open from the neighborhood and from Omaha it really was like living the dream,” said Holzapfel.

But a nightmare tonight as photos from friends in a hotel across the street shows the restaurant in danger of being swept away by Hurricane Ian. A section of the roof is already in a nearby parking lot.

“And Husker and I had a Lakers pennant from kindergarten and all these autographed pictures of friends and family and it”s gone,” Holzapfel said.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Holzapfel's property
The aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Holzapfel's property(Tj Holzapfel)

The couple evacuated about 100 miles away to Fort Lauderdale where only text, photos, and messages keep them updated on the restaurant. Their home not far away is also in harm’s way.

“But we haven’t seen the house and possessions and whether the cars are there or all the things we had because we packed up food water and our dog and we just left,” Holzapfel said.

Though the ocean surges flood their Florida home and business, Tj and Lisa still have a big red spirit flowing through them. A lot of friends up in Nebraska are pulling for them and they’ll be calling to offer help.

“They are and they will and we love them all. We’re Nebraska Strong and we’ll be back,” said Holzapfel.

Though the couple’s home is insured they lease the restaurant building. Most of the décor inside came from the restaurant they had in Waterloo.