HEARTLAND FLOOD: Lakeside communities adjust to post-flood realities

Water levels in lakeside communities near Bellevue aren’t going down and efforts are underway to adjust to post-flood life. (Tara Campbell / WOWT)
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) -- For residents near Hanson Lake, Chris Lake, and Betty Lake, life looks a lot different post-flood.

In the aftermath of the Heartland Flood in March, they are working to protect their communities from future flooding, such as building a higher dike.

"The dike held — that's the good news; but the water came over the dike — that's the bad news," said Chip Frazier, SID 101 president. "So that means we have to raise the level of our dike."

It’s become difficult to predict lakewater levels since the flood left a higher level of groundwater, Frazier said.

"The biggest impact is the uncertainty, the instability,” he said.

He said people who live in these communities used to know what to expect.

"When it was raining the lake would be high when it was dry the lake would be low,” Frazier said. “That's actually stability... There's a dynamic there, but it's predictable."

People are doing what they can to adjust to the new unpredictable nature of living lakeside.

“The way people are responding is their building houses higher if they rebuild," Frazier said.

There are 320 homes within the communities of Hanson Lake, Betty Lake, and Chris Lake. Seventeen of them will have to be torn down or completely rebuilt.

Cally Rogers and her neighbor said life has changed on the lakes since the flooding.

"Memorial Day weekend was weird because that's normally the first weekend people are like 'let's go to the lake.' It was not normal,” Rogers said.

People moved fast to protect the community from a second round of flooding last month — a sign, she said, the mentality has had to shift.

"We haven't been as sensitive to that in the past, but I think with what happened in March, people are little more nervous about the lake levels,” Rogers said.