When Lisa Lemus was about to close the door to her house in the Paradise Lakes neighborhood, the “backyard of Offutt Air Force Base,” she knew that everything she was leaving behind would be destroyed.

Family members had grabbed what they could: some extra clothes, a toy for 8-year-old Lilly, important personal documents, all the photos they could collect, 15-year-old J.J.’s PlayStation, the smallest television in the house and an “all-in-one” computer.

Still inside was everything else: furniture, appliances, family mementos handed down for generations and comfort items, like some sequined pillows Lemus loved.

That feeling Friday, “when you stop at the door and look back,” is something everyone in her neighborhood went through, she said Sunday from a shelter at Bellevue’s Calvary Christian Church. About 35 people, including some neighbors, were housed there Sunday.

Tears filled Lemus’ eyes as she thought of that moment. She and her husband, Juan, later learned that floodwaters had reached at least the gutters of their one-floor modular house.

Before they left Friday in a mandatory evacuation, neighbors hugged one another and shared contact information, still hoping that they might return to their homes.

On Sunday, Lemus was not thinking that was likely.

But she said she also saw “the flip side” to the devastation: the “nonstop donations” being dropped off at the shelter, to the point that some had to be turned away; “so much outreach from family and friends”; that she could still laugh at her son’s humor and antics; that Town & Country Humane Society in Sarpy County was able to take in the family’s three dogs; and the experience of American Red Cross leaders and volunteers to guide them on what to expect in the coming days and weeks.

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon had stopped by the shelter earlier in the day to offer comfort, Lemus said, and her 21-year-old daughter Lexi, who lives in Millard, was available to hang out with them and play games with her siblings.

Lilly and J.J. will be able to return to their Bellevue schools on Monday, Lemus said, and maybe that will take their mind off the family’s losses.

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