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At sunrise, Norfolk City Engineer Steven Rames inspects the levee next to the Northeast Community College on Friday.

Norfolk officials were breathing a sigh of relief Friday after water levels dropped several feet overnight, allowing nearly a third of the city to return to their homes and businesses.

Mayor Josh Moenning thanked first responders, city workers, businesses, volunteers and the entire city for helping one another while coping with floodwaters.

“This was neighbor helping neighbor,” he said. “This was an exercise in community collaboration and self-sufficiency.”

More than 1,000 people stayed at shelters overnight. Thirty-two people were rescued by first responders.

Norfolk Public Safety Director Shane Weidner said damage assessments remain to be done, and recovery efforts will continue throughout the weekend.

“Though we dodged this bullet, there was damage,” he said. “Our citizens are hurting.”

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North of Norfolk, in Pierce, people who were stranded in town were able to leave Friday morning after water levels dropped.

Moenning said Norfolk’s infrastructure remained intact and functional. He said it was vital that the water didn’t breach the North Fork Flood Control Levee, which remained in sound condition. Weidner likened a potential levee breach to the danger that occurred when the Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River was washed out Thursday.

“This is what we hoped in a historical flooding event,” Moenning said. “If not for the investment of previous community leadership and a world-class levee system, this city would be under water.”

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