NIOBRARA, Nebraska (KTIV) – Tourism is a big part of the economy in Niobrara, Nebraska.
But leaders with the village fear that won’t be the case this year.
“When the flood hit here in mid-march, it was total chaos,” said Jody Stark, Village of Niobrara Chairman.
The village of Niobrara is picking up the pieces more than a month after devastating floods hit the town.
“We had a lot of destruction, businesses were overturned,” said Stark. “I guess we really didn’t have any direction where we were going to go.”
But the village has made progress: Highway 12 East is now open for travel.
But heading west is a different story.
Highway 12 leading into Niobrara State Park remain closed- causing issues for the summer and Niobrara’s economy.
“Tourism, recreation is a big part of this area, this whole community,” said Stark. “Not only that, I guess the local people to the west that we depend on the town, the farmers and ranchers out there.”
Engineers with the Nebraska Department of Transportation say it will take some time before the Niobrara River Bridge and Mormon Canal are up again.
“We expect the contractor to be working at site in June,” said Mark Traynowicz, NDOT’s Senior Bridge Engineer. “First order of business when he gets there is to put the temporary road in place. That includes temporary bridge plus the roadway that has to lead over to the temporary bridge. We expect to have traffic moving across the area- the existing Niobrara River Bridge the pavement, and then where the Mormon Canal Bridge was, in August.”
Regardless of how long it takes, the community continues every day to try and get back on their feet.
“Seemed like the community pulled together and we’ve come a long, long way,” adds Stark. “A lot of clean-up efforts.”
The detour time around the bridges are anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half.