Focusing on recovery: Sen. Deb Fischer prioritizing disaster relief for Nebraska citizens

When flooding struck last spring, crews assisted with evacuating the final residents in Ashland: Mary Roncka, and her husband, Gene Roncka, right, accompanied by neighbor Kevin Mandina, top left, as floodwaters continued to rise. Recovery from the aftermath of weather disasters in the spring and summer of 2019 are among priorities for U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, she said this week.

Recovery from the aftermath of weather disasters in the spring and summer of 2019 are among priorities for U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer.

“It’s been a really tough year for the state of Nebraska,” Fischer told the Star-Herald. “We had the blizzard, we had the flood in March. More water in May. More water in July across the state. That’s been a priority for me to make sure that we get a disaster relief bill passed and making sure that’s going to happen.”

Recovery from the disasters and the aftermath have become a point of focus for Fischer.

“It’s been really horrible,” Fischer said. “In March when I went out to Scottsbluff just to hear how the majority of the state was hit by this disaster, whether it was the blizzard, the ice, the flooding. To have it happen like that, it was really overwhelming. Overwhelming.”

While the storms were devastating, Fischer said it was good to see the citizens of Nebraska pull together for recovery efforts.

Sign up for Kearney Hub daily news updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

“I was in Valley, Nebraska, and people were hauling stuff out of their basements and hauling stuff out of their homes because so much was flooded,” she said. “Heartbreaking, heartbreaking to see that. But then it was very uplifting to see people come together and people from outside bring all these supplies and have a distribution center for it all.”

A spending bill in Congress has appropriated funds toward disaster relief. Fischer said those funds are critical for military bases impacted by the storms.

“Hopefully, there will be money that’s going to be appropriated so that we can see some recovery efforts made at Offutt Air Force Base,” she said. “About one-third of the base was under water. That included part of the runway. It included many of the buildings that are there to help with the mission of the 55th Wing. There is money for that. Obviously, Camp Ashland, the National Guard training camp there on the Platte River, it was just a devastating flood that hit that. We were able to get money for that in the bill as well.”

In addition, roads and other infrastructure are in need of repair across the state.

“We got some grant money from the Department of Transportation to help with damaged roads,” Fischer said. “We got a grant from them to help Nebraska DOT to repair some highways. (We have) been working with the Army Corps looking at how we’re going to make sure all the levees are rebuilt that they are in charge of. They are getting along that process pretty good.”