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First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been impacted by the wild range of weather that has affected our state over the past week. The flooding throughout the state is nothing like I have ever seen before. I want to thank our local and state emergency management officials, first responders, and volunteers who are risking everything to save others. If you need help finding housing, food, or any other help related to this natural disaster affecting our state, please call 2-1-1 to talk to a specialist near you. 211 is a free, community resource hotline that is available to the public provided by the Heartland United Way. 211 is a wonderful service for individuals when they need basic services such as food banks, clothing, or shelter, health services, and/or emotional support.
I urge you to take caution as you travel throughout the state. As of Friday, March 15, at least four bridges in the State have washed out or been damaged. These bridges are at Highway 12 at Niobrara, Highway 22 just south of Genoa, Highway 281 south of Spencer, and Highway 11 just south of Butte. Flooding continues to run over numerous roadways and bridges. If you come across water over the roadway, do not drive through it and do not drive around barricades or flagged closures. Due to the adverse travel conditions around the state, please check 511 prior to leaving. 511 provides the most up to date travel conditions and is available by dialing 5-1-1 or online at www.511.nebraska.gov. The Nebraska State Patrol highway helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance by dialing *55. Remember, if you are in an emergency, always call 911.
Another component of this situation in our state is the impact the blizzard and flooding has had on the livestock across Nebraska, specifically on Nebraska’s cattle men and woman during calving season. Often low pressure systems can bring an uptick in animal births, and in Nebraska it was literally a perfect storm of new calves being born and farmers and ranchers struggling to reach them due to blizzard conditions or floodwaters. In some cases, we are hearing stories of entire herds of cattle being swept away in floodwaters. Our ranch families often spend years building up their herds, and losing many of them in one catastrophic event is almost unfathomable.
Through all of these situations, whether flood devastation, cattle loss, and even the loss of some of our Nebraskan neighbors as they have rushed to help others, I am heartened by the outpouring of love and generosity of Nebraska’s people. As we continue to lift each other up in prayer, we also see true engagement from our fellow citizens as they prepare to open their homes to house their neighbors who have been displaced, as they fill sandbags, as they risk their own lives to save others, and as they provide necessities to our citizens in need.
Maybe I am unique, but in true times of crisis such as the one we are facing, I don’t worry about our state. Nebraskans know how to pick themselves up, dust off their boots, and go to work rebuilding. We have seen it time and time again following tornadoes, floods, fires, and other devastation. We are a hearty bunch, and even if you don’t see that on the national nightly news – that doesn’t matter – because it’s happening everywhere across our state right now. Although District #24 has had challenges with flooding and loss – our situation should leave us thankful that the loss was not worse. I am confident that once we are back on our feet, we will reach out to the rest of Nebraska that was not quite as lucky.
Please know that as your state Senator, I will do everything I can do to advocate for the resources for our area needed to repair and rebuild. Nebraska’s emergency management officials, the Nebraska National Guard, the Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the many elected and appointed officials across our district have been wonderful in their proactive approach, their commitment to keeping our families safe, and their service. Again, I thank them.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.