The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is requesting the Federal Emergency Management Agency work with NEMA and local emergency managers on joint damage assessments in ten southeast Nebraska counties.
Those counties sustained heavy rain, hail, wind and flood damage from tornadoes and severe storms between May 3rd and May 11th.
The counties are: Gage, Saline, Jefferson, Thayer, Lancaster, Otoe, Saunders, Cass, Adams and Nuckolls Counties.
Bryan Tuma, assistant director of Nebraska Emergency Management, says three counties, in particular, seemed to sustain the most public facility damage.
“There’s no doubt Thayer, Saline and Jefferson County were probably the hardest-hit counties,” Tuma says. “A lot of the road infrastructure, bridges, culverts were impacted significantly. A lot of transportation infrastructure was significantly impacted.”
FEMA damage assessment teams will be working in the region beginning next week to determine if federal assistance is needed to supplement state assistance. The State of Nebraska also requested assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help determine the extent of private property damage from the severe weather and flooding.
Tuma said that assessment is underway and may last through Friday.
“Next week, we will have representatives from FEMA, they will come in and start doing damage assessments, focused in on public infrastructure primarily and to identify the damage and what type of cost we’re looking at,” Tuma says. “Once those assessments are completed, we’ll know whether we’re positioned to make a request for a federal declaration.”
Tuma says the ten counties apparently have met the public damage threshold to be eligible for federal assistance, based on preliminary figures submitted by cities and counties.
“At this point, we’re not going to release any preliminary damage assessment figures but obviously, our threshhold is 2.5-million and we think that we would be eligible to at least be considered for a disaster declaration,” Tuma says. “It is in the millions of dollars.”
The SBA assessment this week is examining homes, personal property and businesses that have been impacted by the severe storms and flooding. That information will be submitted to the state, which will seek an SBA disaster declaration. That could make private property owners eligible for low-interest loans to aid in recovery.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice