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Dodge County budget thrown out of whack due to flood

Posted: 10:37 PM, Jun 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-05 23:37:14-04
Dodge County budget thrown out of whack due to flood

FREMONT, Neb. (KMTV) — It's possible no county in Nebraska was hit harder than Dodge County. It made Fremont an island for a few days, while also taking out hundreds of roads and bridges.

Now the county is still picking up the pieces, and the cost, from the flood.

"The extent of damage from those three rivers, it's just...it was unbelievable,” says Tom Smith, executive director, Dodge County Emergency Management.

All that damage comes with a hefty price tag of more than $17 million for the mostly rural county.

That $17 million number more than doubles the county budget.

But the county should get most of that money back.

FEMA is expected to pay about 75 percent of the repair costs, with the state taking on half of the rest. So Dodge County will only be on the hook for about 12 and a half percent of the $17 million.

But it's unknown when the refund check will come.

"We also know those dollars are probably a few years away,” says Missel.

Until then the county is doing what it can. It's depleted the cash reserve fund of around $4 million and on Wednesday, supervisors approved a line of credit to get as much as five million dollars in loans.

But they can only do so much.

"Talk to our highway superintendent you can see he's a little anxious right now,” says Missel.

Anxious is one way to describe how roads superintendent Scott Huppert feels.

"The frustration is we've got to wait,” says Huppert.

He's waiting for FEMA reps to come assess Dodge County infrastructure.

"We've been promised and promised, we're going to have representatives up here helping us get through this, I've only seen a handful,” says Huppert.

The county is unable to even start major repair work until the feds check it out and approve it.

"This is a farming community, so you've got to get farmers to get to their fields and stuff like that. My biggest concern is getting these roads, passable,” says Huppert.

Whenever the road work gets done and however long it takes for FEMA to reimburse Dodge County, supervisors still need to figure out how they're going to pay for their share of repairs.

"Last thing we want to do is raise taxes so we're hopeful that we can stretch it out, use our bonding authority to push things back a bit,” says Missel.

The $17 million number is just for repairs, the county may eventually have to pay even more money for flood prevention measures, so something like the flood of 2019, doesn't happen again in Dodge County anytime soon.