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Recovery group turns attention to potential 2020 flood

Kirt Manion

Recovery and preparation were both on the agenda at the Tuesday, Jan. 21, meeting of the Fremont County Long Term Disaster Recovery Group at the Fremont County Emergency Management Office at Sidney.

Members of the group discussed the work that’s being done to complete organization of the Fremont County Long Term Disaster Recovery Group including going through the efforts to become a 501(c)3 organization, a designation that assists in raising funds through donations and grants.

Updates were given by groups tasked with spiritual and emotional support, construction, and volunteer work among others.

While that recovery is important and will continue into the extended future, the members of the group also started to talk about what’s coming up and how to best prepare for a Missouri River flood event in 2020.

First of all, such an event seems likely at this point.

Mike Crecelius of Fremont County Iowa Emergency

Management updated the group on the flood situation as it was known to be at that time.

Crecelius said the Army Corps of Engineers is working to have a 25-year level of flood protection in place by March 1, but noted that a flood event like 2019, 2011 or even 2010 would send water over already weakened levees.

Crecelius said the breaches in the levees are being repaired, but that the other parts of the levee, parts that didn’t fail in 2019, have been compromised and are not being addressed, meaning those areas are the likely spots for the next round of levee failures.

Added to this news, the water behind the dams in the Missouri River system is running high, and water could be coming into the system below the dams from the Platte and from the Niobrara at higher rates.

A dam failed on the Niobrara last year and has not been replaced.

Forecasts call for a wet winter and spring, which means more water, likely without a place to store it.

When officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency finished flood-related work for the 2019 cycle, Crecelius said those officials told him they expected to return in 2020.

FEMA is on the record as saying that they are concerned about the possibility of flood and that the organization is in a mode of anticipation and planning.

In the event that a flood event is on the way, more preparation, communication and coordination seems imperative.

To that end, local organizations of all types are being invited to participate in an upcoming MARC training at the United Faith?Church in Sidney on Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A MARC, or Multi Agency Resource Center, is a community driven project of selecting and organizing a one-stop disaster relief center. These centers make it possible for community organizations to offer all of the different disaster response efforts in one place.

Chris Georges, Regional Recovery Manager for the Iowa Region at American Red Cross gave a short presentation on the MARC training, noting that this was not going to be a prescriptive training where community members would be told a list of tasks that need to be completed.

“It’s there to get the community to be engaged and to collaborate with each other on what they think a MARC would look like in their community,” Georges said.

The key to the whole thing, Goerges said, is to emphasize diversity and invite all types of agencies, groups and organizations that could help in a disaster. This could include Iowa Legal Aid, utility companies and animal rescue.?It could also include faith based groups, cell phone companies, domestic violence groups and grocery stores and many more.

In addition to being a stop to connect with all types of organizations, a MARC could be set up to host meals to aid victims of the disaster.

Find out more information at the MARC training. The soft start time for the Feb. 19 event will be 9 a.m. with a hard start of 9:30 a.m. The possible end time of 3 p.m. could be extended if necessary. Food and drink will be provided for the event.

Spiritual Update

Pastor Luke Filmore of the spiritual and emotional committee within the long term recovery group was not able to attend the meeting but did provide an update that was read to the group.

Project Recovery Iowa is doing individual counseling at the Emergency Management in?Sidney and is looking to continue that effort both at the Emergency Management and potentially as part of in-home visits.

A grief and the holidays workshop was conducted in Hamburg last month with 20 in attendance.

The committee has contacted local schools with the idea of having kids do posters about the disaster as a way of coping with everything that has happened.

An event is being planned as a support for disaster victims.

The Leap of Faith women’s spiritual support event is set for 1 p.m. on Feb. 29 at the Victory Life Church at 1000 Illinois St., in Sidney. This free event is open to all women in Fremont and Mills Counties.

Events

The National Weather Service will provide a flooding update to residents at 6:30 p.m. on March 5 at the United Faith?Church in Sidney. Also, the National Weather Service will host Storm Spotter Training at 7 p.m. on March 11 at the Sidney?High?School.

The next meeting of the Fremont County Long Term Disaster Recovery Group will be at the Fremont County Emergency Management Office at Sidney on Tuesday, March 24, at 6 p.m.