Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
The past several days, have been rather hectic and stressful here in my hometown. Fremont, Nebraska fell victim to the recent flooding along the Platte River and was cut off until today. All roads leading in to or out of the community had flooded and our town became an island.
My daughter Sara and my granddaughter Gracyn had come to town last Wednesday on March 13, 2019 to help with Spring cleaning. When Sara drove home over the Platte River Bridge, she thought the river looked a little high. The next day the mighty Platte overtook the levees and the winter melt and chunks of ice forced their way into the lower lying areas of Inglewood and Big Island.
Towns west of Fremont were experiencing flooding and more water was heading our way. Unfortunately, a series of levee breaches near the State Lakes Recreation Area created a new river channel that allowed water to flow into the lakes and then into Fremont.
Another levee breach at the cutoff ditch on Highway 30 west of Fremont caused flooding to the west and north of the City. Meanwhile on the North and East side of town the Elkhorn River was also flooding low lying areas. Eventually all roads surrounding Fremont were topped with fast moving river water and damaging ice and debris.
Neighborhoods in Fremont were evacuated and sandbagging was completed in strategic areas. It was gratifying to see so many citizens come together to help in this monumental effort to save remaining portions of our town.
The flood waters were rising quickly in Arlington on Thursday night. Caught by surprise, residents in low-lying areas needed rescuing. Fire fighters from Fremont were among the first responders. Both boats that they were using for the rescue operation capsized. All aboard were thrown into the icy waters. A Blackhawk helicopter was brought in and the rescuers were rescued.
I live near the Fremont Airport and heard the Blackhawk helicopter fly low over my house – all the windows shook. The police sirens sounded like they were coming from all directions. I found out later that the men had been in the water for an hour and the police were blocking traffic from the airport to the hospital. They wanted to waste no time getting them to the hospital for treatment.
Just so you know, all of those brave men survived and a grateful town collectively heaved a sigh of relief. I ran into one of the firefighters shortly after he had been released from the hospital. He’s a good man with a wife and two little boys – it was wonderful to see him out and about and alive. I must say that all of the first responders have been amazing. The employees of the City of Fremont have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Area pilots organized an effort to bring in supplies and people who needed a way into Fremont. On their return trips they took people to nearby airports to catch a ride home. It was a constant stream of airplanes landing and taking off.
A thousand Fremonters were evacuated from their homes and temporary shelters were set up at local schools and churches. Many more people were sheltered in private homes. The Fremont United Way quickly organized a fundraising effort that will keep donations local for the flood relief. A free store is open at the City Auditorium for those needing supplies.
I stopped by the Auditorium yesterday to drop off a check and it was amazing to see all the volunteers and donations. Diapers, shampoo, bleach, clothes, rags, baby formula, soap, blankets, pillows, etc. The young people lined up and throwing boxes from one to another and into the building was inspiring. It made me teary – I was so proud of all these able-bodied people.
It is hard to say, but from the videos and pictures shared of the devastation, numerous homes will be a total loss. Others completely swept away. I’ve heard it said that some towns may not be able to survive – it may be the end. I’ve also heard it said that some farmers may not be able to survive the massive losses. I don’t know if that is true – only time will tell.
The loss of bridges in our state is overwhelming. I haven’t heard a total, but rural bridges failed at an alarming rate. Bridges along major highways also failed, as well as, the highways themselves. The infrastructure costs in Nebraska and Iowa will be horrendous.
As I write this it is raining. Great – raining. And a friend just sent me a message that snow melt in Colorado and Wyoming could be a problem along the Platte. I figured that would be a flooding issue. I guess we just face that situation when it comes, but hopefully our levees will be repaired and we will be better able to handle the extra water.
Lots of uncertainty – but one thing is for sure - there are a lot of fine people who truly care about their neighbors. People who are willing to risk their lives, as well as, their time, effort and resources to protect their town – my town. I am grateful for all the help that has come our way and I am grateful that a large portion of our town was spared. Please pray for those who were not so fortunate and pray that we continue to survive this horrendous flooding.