KEARNEY — By 11 a.m. Monday, flood victims will be gone from two dormitories at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where they have been housed since Tuesday.
The university is also reducing its cafeteria hours during the weekend and will offer only brunch and dinner to flood victims.
Victims who need temporary housing after Monday are expected to move into Kearney Catholic High School, 110 E. 35th St. That decision will be finalized Sunday.
Four families with long-term needs are moving into suites at Kearney Housing Authority, 2715 I Avenue.
UNK has been working with the Salvation Army and Kearney Housing Authority to arrange for housing for people displaced by the flood.
Todd Gottula, senior director of communications and marketing at UNK, said rooms in Centennial Tower West and Randall Hall slept 330 people Tuesday night. Each guest was provided with bed linen, a pillow and a bath towel. All were given free meals by UNK Dining Services.
Gottula said about 80 percent were travelers stranded when motels near I-80 flooded and had to be evacuated. The other 20 percent were Kearney area residents who were displaced from their homes.
Gottula said when dorms were opened for flood victims, UNK quickly realized housing and meals would be needed beyond just one night. Guests slowly have departed from the dorms all week. By Wednesday night, there were 186 guests. Thursday night, that number was down to fewer than 100. Friday night, fewer than 50 remained.
The numbers in UNK dorms “continue to drop as people find transportation to leave town or other accommodations,” he said.
Carrie Hardage, executive director at KHA, said the complex is 97 percent full, but five apartments were made available for flood victims. As of mid-afternoon Friday, four families were in the process of moving in. They include a couple from Tennessee who got married last Sunday, and a family of six that was flooded out of its home in Gibbon.
Hardage said a nonprofit has donated money to buy beds and basic kitchen items for the families.
In addition to offering housing and meals, UNK worked with numerous agencies to provide transportation to airports across the state, lined up rental cars for those whose cars were affected by the flood, and offered daily shuttle service in and around Kearney.
“So many people and organizations across Kearney stepped up to help,” Gottula said. “Housing and meals were two major needs, and UNK was happy to assist in those areas. We hope we were able to provide some comfort in their time of need.”
The university also is working with Kearney hotels to host weddings, business conferences and other parties and events that had to be relocated due to flooding.