Deshler hopeful mitigation plan can prevent future flooding

*This story was featured in the Hastings Tribune on July 26, 2016. 

DESHLER — After two major floods within the last two years, the city of Deshler is hoping to minimize the chance for another flood.

The effort to lessen the likelihood of another devastating flood comes in the form of a flood hazard mitigation study and a partnership between the city and the Little Blue Natural Resources District.

During a meeting in Davenport on July 12, the LBNRD and officials from Deshler entered into an agreement under the Interlocal Cooperation Act of the state of Nebraska and agreed to share costs of the study.

The agreement will allow the LBNRD and the city of Deshler to split 25 percent of the local contribution costs for the study. Both Deshler and the LBNRD will pay $6,250, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to cover the rest of the costs. The total cost of the project is estimated at $49,650.

Both parties are hopeful the study will help combat the flooding problem.

“We’ve had two incidents in the past 12 months,” said Julie Buescher, Deshler city clerk and treasurer. “It’s been a problem.”

The two most impactful floods came in May 2015 and April 2016.

During the flood of 2015, Deshler High School had to be used as an evacuation center for residents of the Parkview Haven and Meadowlark Heights Assisted Living Centers, said Al Meier, superintendent of Deshler Public Schools.

The school also suffered damages in the form of a flooded football field and track, as well as water damage to the elementary school.

“We had water coming into the elementary school … we had 3-5 inches of water in it,” Meier said.

The school received help from FEMA and district funds after the flood and has since repaired the damages to custodial rooms, vents and the football field, as well as the track.

During the April 2016 flood, the Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network reported more than 5 inches of precipitation fell just southeast of Ruskin during a 24-hour period.

The damage from that particular flood was extensive, too, including damages to area ballparks and city parks and the destruction of playground equipment.

Buescher hopes the study will help find solutions to the flood problems.

“I guess they’re hoping to identify what some of the issues are to why it’s happening and some of the solutions to keep it from happening,” she said.

Mike Onnen, general manager of the Little Blue Natural Resources District, says the study will be extensive.

“The firm that has been selected will be looking at all the elevations of the structures,” he said. “Hopefully by next year they will have all of that data collected.”

The study will include an examination of the structures in the flood plain and running storm frequencies to determine the level of flood it would take to damage those structures located in the flood plain. Onnen said moving structures out of the flood plain and rechannelization of Snake Creek to prevent the likelihood of flooding also are preventative measure possibilities.

After receiving funding from FEMA, conducting field work and planning, the city of Deshler is expected to review its options and conduct a public meeting before final plans are put into place.