John Bartel, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers specialist, photographs the Spencer Dam during an inspection Thursday. In the next 60 days, it will be determined whether the dam will be rebuilt or the facilities will be removed, said Edward Sloan of FEMA.

SPENCER, Neb. — When the dam about 5 miles southeast of here was breached by floodwaters and ice chunks in March, a chain of difficulties was set off in the area.

That included a lack of water resources for the town of Spencer and a closed-off section of Highway 281 and other county roads.

On Thursday, a big step was taken to begin the infrastructure recovery efforts regarding the dam itself.

Edward Sloan, program delivery manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visited the site of the dam, along with a volunteer team of retired members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Sloan said his team would be inspecting the dam in relation to environmental, mechanical, electrical, structural, civil and hydraulics aspects.

The inspections are part of the second phase of a four-phase process to secure public assistance and help determine which requests will be a priority. Following a recovery scope meeting last week, a 60-day regulatory time frame began for damage to be identified and sent to the Consolidated Resource Center.

FEMA’s public assistance program has been authorized for 76 counties and five tribal areas that sustained major damage in the March flooding and storms.

“That’s how funding is approved. My team all does a piece of the inspection and writes up reports that go to the grants manager program. Nebraska (Public) Power has to come up with a cost for replacement of the dam, if we decide to replace it,” Sloan said.