Broken bridges separate Niobrara community

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NIOBRARA, N.E. (KELO)– It’s been six weeks since flooding hit the town of Niobrara, NE. While ice has melted and water has gone down in some areas, the damage left behind is still affecting people in the southern KELOLAND town.

Mud is a familiar sight for folks in Niobrara. These piles of debris are what’s left of local businesses.

Garry Nielsen is one of the owners.

“I’ve lost four buildings, a big Quonset, and all my machinery, and the hay that was in the buildings,” lives on ranch/owns hay business, Garry Nielsen said.

He now has to move his business.

“I’m rebuilding south of town but all your money is gone, everything you worked for for 30 years, you have to start over, it’s just going to be a summer with no income,” Nielsen said.

If that’s not enough, just down the road both the Niobrara and Mormon Canal bridges are out.

“I have land on the west side of Niobrara that is one mile, you can see it from right here, it takes me 55 miles to get there,” Nielsen said.

What used to be just a short drive across the bridge, now that it’s out people are having to drive several miles just to get to their farms or ranches to feed livestock and even just to get home.

“The people on the west side of Niobrara don’t have the access with the bridge being out so they’re not getting the fertilizer in, they’re not getting the seed in they need, not getting hay,” rancher, Jake Warembourg said.

Jake Warembourg has ranched in the area for nearly 25 years, and with the bridges out, it’s causing headaches.

“Me in particular I used to be 14 miles one way to our ranch, now I’m right at 68 miles to my house to our ranch, I have a 5 month old daughter and I don’t get to see her as much,” Warembourg said.

And it’s not an easy drive. Many of the roads are gravel, and have become rough to travel on.

It is also a problem for emergency crews like Mark Simpson and his wife who volunteer as EMTs.

“The problem is we can’t get the rescue squad from Niobrara over to Raymond township and what we did when we realized it was a problem, we went and got a lot of supplies and put them in our pickup truck,” EMT from Niobrara rural fire and rescue, Mark Simpson said.

A community separated by broken bridges.

“We kind of feel like we’re on an island with no way to get off,” Simpson said.

Simpson said this is also a popular area for toursim with Niobrara State Park, but with bridges out, it may affect people being able to access the park.

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