GIBBON — Floodwaters are receding in Gibbon, but damage is expected to exceed the losses suffered in the mid-March floods.
“We’re pretty busy. People are asking what they can do to help, but there’s nothing yet until the water recedes,” Laci Bentley, president of the Gibbon Chamber of Commerce, said this morning.
She said it was too early to predict how much damage occurred.
City administrator Chris Rector said early Thursday afternoon that the water is slowly receding, but he has not heard an official number as to how high floods rose. “I know it was more in town than we had in March. We probably had a foot of water higher in town,” he said. In March, water climbed to 17.6 feet.
He said the city had a few rescues, but most people left before floodwaters began rising. Most went to homes of family and friends, he said. Others went to Kearney, where dorms at the University of Nebraska at Kearney were opened to those stranded by rising waters.
“We had a few rescues. We had Nebraska State Patrol amphibious vehicles helped out a lot, but most people left,” he said.
As of 1 p.m., people had not yet begun to return to their homes. He thought that might begin by late afternoon or early evening.
As of 1:20 p.m., Highway 30 remains closed from Baldwin Filters on Highway 30 east of Kearney, through the eastern edges of Shelton.
Bentley said floodwater from the Wood River crept into town before dawn Wednesday. She said her husband Ken stopped at Casey’s for a cup of coffee at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday “and it was bone dry, but the clerk told him to hurry up and get out of there right now. By the time he paid for his coffee and left, there was six inches of water in the parking lot, and it was rising.”
As of Thursday morning, she said storm sewers were full and “water was coming up from sewer drains into basements. We didn’t have that issue in March,” she said.
She said properties that were flooded in March got hit again, “plus quite a few more on the south side of the railroad tracks were affected this time. I drove through town and several roads are closed and blocked off. The flooding on the north side of town is way worse than in March.”
After the March floods, the Gibbon Area Relief Team was created. It has become an umbrella organization of the Kearney Area Community Foundation, which means the grassroots organization can collect tax-deductible donations for flood relief.
GART members, along with Bentley, are Mandi Schutte, Abbey Lambert, Mike Evans, Derrick Clevenger, John Coppernoll and Jeff Burmood.
“We wanted to help our community, and we wanted one main source for people to reach out to and which could distribute funds,” Bentley, who is also an NP Realtor, said.
Judi Sickler, executive director and president of the KACF, said, “We haven’t finished helping people after the March floods, and some of these unfortunate people are getting hit again.”
Bentley is also a representative on the Community Organizations Active in Disaster team, which will meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Buffalo County Emergency Management office. The team will focus on a plan to provide flood relief throughout the area.