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Winslow considers moving to a new location after flood damage

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jan 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-19 23:59:40-05

WINSLOW, Neb. (KMTV) — The floods in March left many communities under water, including Winslow, Nebraska. People still living there are facing tough questions, including if moving the entire community to another location is the right decision. One man who still lives there says this might be the only option to keep Winslow on the map.

"Most everybody has moved out, there are...nine households that have somebody living in it right now," said Zachary Klein of the Winslow Volunteer Fire Department and Village Trustee. Nine is a sharp decline from more than 100 just a year ago. Flood waters in March damaged many homes to the point they can't be repaired, and caused many people to leave their property behind. Klein is one of the few who stayed.

"I think community identity is important to a lot of people, the residents had bought their house in Winslow and they had bought it for a variety of reasons but they had chose to move here," said Klein.

With the Elkhorn River not far away, and flooding that could happen again, those still in Winslow or those with property they want to keep are considering a few choices of what to do next. One choice includes Winslow changing its location on the map, and settles three miles north in a new spot. Doing so would mean people can either physically move their property or build new homes.

"There's a lot of partners who are trying to work to make that possible for them but ultimately it's the decision the community of Winslow going to have to make," says Bryan Tuma of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Other small communities have moved before including Niobrara, as a result of flooding as well. Lots of hurdles stand in the way including legality questions, if the community can get the needed funds needed to set up a new town, and if enough people want to actually move with Winslow.

Klein says about 30 households are interested in moving with Winslow. He thinks a new location is the only way to truly save this once thriving community. "We're still trying to come to a positive outcome out this disaster and I think that's all that we really can do," said Klein.

Klein says Winslow has been working with Senator Lynne Walz, who represents Dodge County, on a bill to help communities impacted by floods. He says if a move is approved, it would take time to happen and would keep people in the community past the spring flooding window.