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Revisiting Nebraska flooding, one year later

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NIOBRARA, Nebraska (KTIV) - The COVID-19 Coronavirus is in the headlines this year. Last year, flooding was dominating much of our news coverage.

On March 14, a year ago, the dam near Spencer, Nebraska failed and sent ice chunks and water racing downstream causing lots of damage to the village of Niobrara, Nebraska.

Part of the town was devastated, and the wave of water and ice destroyed the main bridge over the Morman Canal on Highway 12.

The detour time around the bridges was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

A few months later, state officials completed a temporary bridge that would eliminate that detour for most residents.

There is still some minor flooding, but most of the water has receded.

Work is moving forward on a permanent replacement to the washed-out bridge and should be completed by this fall.

Several businesses in Niobrara, Nebraska were damaged or wiped out from the break. The Country Cafe in town was no exception.

That cafe was destroyed by floodwaters and large chunks of ice. However, today the business is thriving.

According to the owner, the cafe was able to re-open with help from the community.

"We've had a lot of help, a lot of volunteers, people from Nebraska helping with a lot of things, equipment, food, and just everybody was very helpful," said Laura Sucha, owner of The Country Cafe.

The Country Cafe continues to serve the people of Niobrara daily, and the owner also says they have even had an increase in business since reopening last year.

All of the flooding in Niobrara was caused from the dam break North of Spencer.

Last March, It took us a couple of days just to be able to reach the scene and only by air. KTIV's Al Joens brought us the first video of the aftermath as he flew over the area a year ago.

Now, the dam looks mostly the same, but the highway bridge just downriver that was damaged has a temporary bridge in place.

The state is also working to get a permanent bridge in place at that location.

Connor Foster

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