Glenn Finnell lived through the floods in 1952, 1993 and 2011 but is considering not reopening his businesses after the 2019 flood in Hamburg, Iowa.

More than 1,000 businesses in Nebraska were affected by the March blizzard, rains and flooding that developed into Nebraska’s costliest disaster on record, state officials said Monday.

With that in mind, state and federal emergency officials are urging business owners and managers to prepare now for the next disaster.

When the private sector is prepared, the entire community can recover more quickly, said Constance C. Johnson-Cage of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That’s because people need access to stores for groceries and supplies, gas stations for fuel and employers for paychecks.

Businesses that have a disaster preparedness plan — and implement it — have less damage, loss and downtime than those without a plan, said Earl Imler of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

A 2016 survey by Nationwide insurance found that two out of three small business owners do not have a written disaster recovery plan in place.

Nebraska has a Nebraska Preparedness Partnership that offers training, exercises and networking for businesses that want to create a plan for disaster recovery.

Sandra Hobson, director of the Nebraska partnership, said the plan helps businesses plan for relocation to a pre-identified site, retrieval of business records and operations with minimal staff.

For information, contact the partnership at 402-979-7207 or www.neprep.org.

Boaters asked to keep avoiding stretch of Elkhorn River

Officials with Northern Natural Gas are asking that boaters continue to avoid the Elkhorn River north of Highway 91 and south of County Road J in Dodge County while crews replace an exposed natural gas pipeline.

Mike Loeffler, spokesman for Northern, said the pipeline, which had been buried beneath the river, was exposed when flooding widened and eroded the river bank. Crews had hoped to have their work done by the end of June, but delays in getting heavy equipment mats meant the work had to be put off, Loeffler said. The mats are placed under equipment so that the vehicles don’t get mired in mud. Loeffler said there has been such demand for the mats due to widespread flooding that Northern has had to wait.

The public hasn’t been in danger, Loeffler said. Northern now has the needed mats and replacement has begun, he said. The company hopes to have the work done by the end of July.

Trees that fell during flooding removed from Niobrara River

Park rangers along the Niobrara National Scenic River have partially removed some trees that fell into the river during flooding.

Normally, little needs to be done about trees in the river, said Park Ranger Bobbie Roshone. But, because there were more trees than normal, staff decided to move some to the side, especially to help tubers who might be used to maneuvering in high flows. Flows are declining overall but have spiked with recent thunderstorms, Roshone said.

“While floating the river is never risk-free, we are confident that river users can use their good judgment and avoid the remaining trees,” she said.