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Two years after historic Heartland Flood, many in the Midwest still in limbo

Severe weather elsewhere in the state this weekend put some on alert
Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - This weekend marks two years passed since historic floodwaters swept across the Midwest. The recent severe weather to the west was a cause for pause for those hit hard in 2019.

“The Platte River is just beyond the lake there and what they’re saying is it’s suppose to get above 10 feet, so it has a good possibility of coming over the levee again,” said Dan Steyskal, who used to live at Hanson Lake in Sarpy County, along with his family.

His eight-year-old daughter, Brooklyn said she won’t ever forget the day the flood hit.

“It was on my mom’s birthday and today’s my mom’s birthday, “she said, outside their old home, still in ruins. “I really miss our house because I only had a couple of years to live here.”

Her dad, wishing he had some more time, too.

“I come down here and I tell everyone it’s like being punched in the stomach every time, it was a beautiful place,” said Steyskal, who’s torn between rebuilding and just letting it go.

The nearby levee is his biggest concern.

“This used to be really wide two years ago, but the river keeps etching into it,” said Steyskal, walking along the levee. “It’s getting a little sketchy up here.”

Some near the river have rebuilt, but others like Steyskal aren’t so sure.

“Everybody’s always asking me, ‘hey, are going to rebuild?’. I’m not going to put everything I have left, what little I have left, into something that’s going to get destroyed again,” said Steyskal.

Like so many who lost their homes in 2019, two years later it’s no easier to say goodbye.

“Just didn’t know what to say, and I just miss it so much,” Brooklynn said when asked what it feels like to come back to her old home.

The Heartland Flood was the result of what’s been called a “perfect storm” of conditions. This year is a much different scenario, with the Missouri River at a near-record low, which means the Platte River will have a much easier time flowing into it, and will be far less likely to get backed up the way it did in 2019.

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