More than 580 residences in the Bellevue and Fremont areas have been marked with red tags, meaning either that the homes are not habitable or that substantial repairs need to be made before they can be reoccupied.

“We have 180 houses red-tagged inside the city limits,” said Brian Newton, Fremont’s city administrator. “The rest are outside of the city. Some have structural problems and some not. They all have their electricity shut off.”

Jim Ristow, city administrator of Bellevue, said there are 128 red-tagged homes in Green Acres, 195 in Paradise Lake and 10 in Elbow Bend. Additionally, six rural residences will have to be demolished. Several businesses have yet to be evaluated.

If an inspection reveals significant damage, a housing inspector places a bright red notice on the door. Getting “red-tagged” means that homeowners cannot repair the house until consulting with county officials.

If it’s determined that the damage exceeds half the home’s value, there’s a local and federal requirement for action to be taken. That usually means elevating a house on stilts or raising its foundation so the property isn’t simply left to flood again, Newton said.

“They might have to raise the property up or make some other adjustment,” he said. “FEMA does not want the properties to be repeatedly flooded.”

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Floods devastate Nebraska, Iowa in March 2019

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People who populate the towns and small lake communities along the Platte River west and south of Omaha were taking stock of their homes and futures this week. Some of the properties are second homes or summer getaways, but just as many are full-time residences, from small mobile homes to comfortable villas.

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After drenching rains Tuesday and heavy snow on Wednesday, Gibbon’s low spots became apparent, first as water filled streets to the curb, and later on Thursday and Friday as the water spilled into lawns and driveways before lapping at foundations. “I’ve never seen so much water, or the force and damage it can do in a short time,” firefighter Jamey Rome said.

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Thirty buildings, including the 55th Wing headquarters and the two major aircraft maintenance facilities, had been flooded with up to 8 feet of water, and 30 more structures damaged. About 3,000 feet of the base’s 11,700-foot runway was submerged. No one, though, had been injured.

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