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Proposed legislation to help flood devastated communities move

Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-23 23:54:12-05

WINSLOW, Neb. (KMTV) — Some homeowners in the small community of Winslow are considering moving to a new location as a result of flood damage. Not just themselves, but the entire community. To get that process going, a bill has been put forth to clear any legal issues of such move.

"It was pretty devastating the majority of homes in that community are not livable anymore," said Senator Lynne Walz, who represents the Fremont area. The small community of Winslow hasn't been the same since the March 2019 floods. Lots of people have moved out, but some still remain. Those that do, are facing a tough question. "Should they stay and repair the homes and take the chance of another flood which is highly likely or do they move the entire city," said Walz.

The second part of that question is an idea, where Winslow, which is just south of the Elkhorn River, changes its location on the map and moves three miles north to a new spot and out of the flood zone. Sen. Walz has put forth a bill that would clear any legal hurdles to help communities devastated by floods move to a new location. That idea appeals to some still living in Winslow like Zachary Klein.

"There's 28 households that are interested in trying to relocate to the new site, whether that's physically move their structure up there or use the acquisition money to assist them in building at the new site once we get one established," said Klein.

The legislation is now considered a priority for the Urban Affairs Committee and they're asking for an emergency clause to help push it through. However, not everyone in Winslow is in favor of a move. "If somebody wants to stay in Winslow they have the right to do that and I think that they fully understand from the people that I've talked to that they're taking a risk in not relocating," said Walz.

Having this option is critical according to Walz, which can help other communities in the future faced with similar circumstances. "We don't know if this is going to fix the whole situation for Winslow but it at least allows them an opportunity if they decide to relocate the community," said Walz.

There isn't a time-frame to when this bill will be heard on the floor, but Walz says the sooner the better so they can move during the summer months if needed.