Platte County as of Thursday not on federal disaster aid list

March 22, 2019

President Donald Trump has approved Nebraska’s request for federal disaster assistance in response to historic flooding throughout the state.

The declaration issued Thursday provides federal aid to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts. It also opens the door to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help affected residents.

Gov. Pete Ricketts submitted the request to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday. Ricketts says federal assistance will play a key role in the recovery effort.

Ricketts thanked the president for his quick action.

“Nebraskans have already been stepping up to begin the journey to recovering from the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history. As we rebuild together, federal assistance is a key part of ensuring that we keep Nebraska strong and growing,” Ricketts said.

Federal funding will be available to affected individuals in the counties of Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington.

Jerry Engdahl, chairman of the Platte County Board of Supervisors, said Thursday afternoon that the county is anticipating more than $9 million in overall county damages. He noted that the names of counties receiving federal disaster aid may not be finalized.

“I’m just not sure that it is up to date, that may be the initial nine counties but I really don’t know one way or the other right now,” Engdahl said, adding that he has heard reports of anywhere from 600-1,000 head of livestock dying in the recent floods.

“Platte County hasn’t been invited yet, (but) nobody has said anything to us that we aren’t getting anything.”

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

At a briefing for Nebraska state senators on Thursday, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Director Bryan Tuma said “things are beginning to get better” as flood waters recede.

“We are transitioning out of the response phase and are focused on recovery now,” he told senators during a briefing conducted with Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general.

Columbus Telegram News Editor Sam Pimper contributed to this story.