Aug. 29, 2019, 7 p.m.
Congressman Adrian Smith was in Peru, Nebraska, Thursday to survey flooding and flood damage. Some damage there can’t yet be evaluated.
Local leaders in Peru emphasized their concern about a levee breach. Because floodwaters have not yet receded, the breach can’t be properly evaluated for repair. Leaders fear the levee may not be rebuilt, leaving the area vulnerable to future flooding.
Representative Smith toured a flooded residential area, as well as the area around the city’s damaged water treatment plant. He also met with members of the city government, as well as Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama, who represents the region.
“Everything this side of the barricade is uninhabitable?" Smith asked.
"Yes," Slama said.
"So what are the plans for those? Just waiting on the levee…?" Smith said.
Rep. Smith (right), Nemaha County Emergency Manager Renee Critzer (center), and Jeff Rowell (left) view drone footage of flooding in Peru. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)
"...OK from FEMA to take them out. Clean-up will start in the next couple weeks." Slama said.
"So these up here wouldn’t be repairable?" Smith asked.
"No,” Slama answered.
Slama said the city is looking at $20 million to rebuild infrastructure, and water is a pressing issue.
“The temporary water treatment facility we have up now has a lifespan of three years, so it’s good for now," Slama said. "It meets most of our needs. We may have to supplement with trucking, and there have been a few other ideas proposed as a supplement, but it’s not a long-term solution.”
Floodwaters aren’t expected to fully recede in Peru until November or December. That’s because releases from the Gavin’s Point Dam continue to be larger than usual to compensate for a wet spring in South Dakota.
Some farmland and residential areas are still underwater and the city was using bottled water for drinking well into July.