The Fremont chicken processing plant that will serve Costco stores avoided major damage from last week’s floodwaters.
The area around the plant, in the south part of Fremont just north of the Platte River, had water on the property, but the water didn’t get into any of the buildings.
“It kind of looked like each building was an island,” said Jessica Kolterman, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Premium Poultry, the business that is managing the plant for Costco.
The plant has been under construction since 2017 and is not yet fully operational. The seed mill, hatchery and processing facility were built on the 500-year floodplain, which is one reason they escaped damage.
In addition, multiple ponds on the property that were designed to hold large rains helped rein in historic flooding.
One pond held 90 acre-feet of water — more than 29 million gallons.
“If we hadn’t had those ponds, that water would have probably flowed into the community,” Kolterman said.
Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton agreed that the ponds were an asset to the city.
“It holds water, and it releases it slowly afterward,” he said. “That’s the beauty of them.”
None of the more than 100 family chicken farms contracted with the facility were damaged by floodwaters, Kolterman said. Damaged roads posed challenges for getting feed to those farmers and for employees being able to get to work, Kolterman said, but that issue has largely subsided.
“Fortunately for us, this historic event occurred when we were still in the infancy stages of managing our flock with our farmers,” she said.
Crews are working on pumping out additional water that hasn’t already receded, and construction should resume shortly. Workers have also helped out with evacuations, cleanup efforts and volunteering at shelters.
“We are doing everything we can to support our neighbors,” Kolterman said. “We are so proud of our team for the way they’ve responded to this and the caring concern they’ve shown our community.”
Newton said many employees from the industrial companies in the area have worked together to clear area roads. It’s important for the community to get back to normal operations, he said, because of the business and economic impacts.
“It’s a team effort,” he said.
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