A rose to ... the scores and good neighbors and friends who stood by each other during the July 8-12 rainstorm and flood. The people of Gibbon merit special commendations. They fought through the flood of March 14, rebuilt their town and saw it flooded a second time last week. Courageously, they are hanging together and again putting the pieces back together.
Kearney’s flood presents its own set of challenges, in particular for one of our community’s major industries — tourism.
Kearney’s hotel and motel district was in the path of the flood, and now only 600 of Kearney's 1,800 hotel rooms are usable. The rest are undergoing repairs for flood damage, along with the lobbies, kitchens, laundries and other functions necessary to lodge and care for guests.
Earlier this week the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reported that the American Red Cross estimated there were 98 homes destroyed and seriously damaged in the flood, but on Wednesday as hundreds of people packed The Salvation Army Headquarters to learn about assistance to aid their recovery, it was reported that damaged and destroyed homes number almost 400. If that is so, those residents and business operators will need their friends and families more than ever.
A rose to ... former Kearney High School and Nebraska Cornhuskers player Brett Maher, who traveled to Kearney from Dallas to help with flood relief through a pair of public appearances on Wednesday called “Kickin’ It With Brett.” Maher now is the kicker for the Dallas Cowboys and endeared himself with Cowboys fans when he kicked a game-winning 62-yard field goal last season.
There were no kicking demonstrations during Maher’s Kearney appearances, but that’s OK. Whenever a former resident returns to help during a crisis, it’s a shot in the arm for all who are working hard to recover. Thanks, Brett, for helping your friends in Kearney.
A raspberry to ... the latent effects of loss, fear, stress and exhaustion. In the weeks and months ahead, many of the people affected by last week’s disaster could be experiencing mental and emotional pains. Fortunately, help isn’t far away. In fact, help will come as a knock on the door when a platoon of mental health professionals makes the rounds in the weeks ahead.
Trained mental health professionals will be knocking on every door in every community from Elm Creek to Kearney to Gibbon to be sure mental health needs are being met after the flood.
That’s according to Region 3 Behavioral Health’s Caleb Davis, disaster behavior health coordinator.
Currently seven professionals have been hired and trained to make home visits. Davis plans to hire at least four more.
He said that, as with any loss, stress and grief could rise as immediate, massive flood relief efforts taper off and life resumes ordinary patterns.