Ruining 27 state bridges, approximately 200 miles of pavement and creating more than $1 billion in damages, according to the US Department of Transportation, the Nebraska flood of 2019 became the worst natural disaster in the state’s history.
Its impact was astronomical as the Missouri, Elkhorn and Platte Rivers destroyed thousands of homes, farms and businesses and 65 of Nebraska’s 93 counties declared a state of emergency last March.
With the closure of Interstate 29, it took freshman Elizabeth Foreman, who lives southwest of Missouri Valley, nearly 40 minutes to get to school.
“Our backyard had a lake in it for a while,” Foreman said. “Our neighbors fields were completely under water, but we got lucky.” While the 2019 flood wasn’t as impactful on Foreman’s family as the one in 2011, when her family was forced to evacuate their home, she has seen the damage it had on others in Nebraska and Iowa.
“It has put hundreds of farmers out of work, and it’s made their fields unproducible due to lack of nutrients in the soil that was swept away in the flood,” Foreman said. “My mom and I would joke and say ‘there’s the river!’ when we drove past areas that were supposed to be farmland.”
“There are still fields flooded along the interstate and land underwater, but people seem to have stopped caring,” Foreman said. “It bothers me that people are out of work and have lost their homes, but nobody is still talking about it.”
Sophomore Lilianna Sanchez’s family felt the flood’s impact firsthand, too. “My abuela Maria’s house got flooded and her three cats died,” Sanchez said. She wishes people recognized the devastating impact the flood continues to have, and the financial stress its caused.
“A year later and my Abuela and Abuelo are still looking for a new house they can afford, and it’s hard because their entire neighborhood was flooded,” Sanchez said.