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Winslow residents discuss options of relocation at community meeting

October 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Residents of Winslow were told they could either stay, leave or relocate the village entirely in the aftermath of last year’s flooding at a meeting Wednesday night.

Residents of Winslow were told they could either stay, leave or relocate the village entirely in the aftermath of last year’s flooding at a meeting Wednesday night. “You guys have to make your decision on what’s best for your family, what’s best for your community and how that all interrelates, and it’s complex,” JEO Consulting Group resiliency strategist Mary Baker said.

“It is not an easy thing to do, but you all are still here. ”The village held the meeting at the Winslow Fire Department to discuss its options after Winslow was ravaged by flooding last spring. Also in attendance at the meeting were Jacki Trujillo of the Fremont Area United Way and Dodge County Long-Term Recovery Group, as well as Dodge County Emergency Manager Tom Smith. “I know that I’ve been involved in 30 meetings since April regarding just Winslow, and I can’t imagine how many Shawn [Kotik] and Zack [Klein] have been involved in as the representatives for Winslow for the disaster itself,” Smith said.

Since then, he said he’s met with the Nebraska Emergency Agency to discover programs on how to help Winslow. “It was back-and-forth, and it was a learning process as we rely on the state for support in helping us navigate through the relocation process,” he said. During the meeting, Baker, who has worked with dozens of communities on disaster events, discussed the options the village and its residents had moving forward. “Our goal tonight, ultimately, is that everybody has the same information and everybody knows where everything is for the village,” she said. The village is currently about $600,000 in debt, Baker said.

A majority of that is $500,000 in municipal bonds, which includes water improvements and the levee system, while the rest is in debt consolidation for flood repairs from the Hooper Bank. Winslow also has several projects with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including $121,730 to repair the damaged levee, $173,885 to repair the streets and $127,453 to repair the community building. Baker said the local cost share would be about $52,883, as FEMA would pay for 75% of the projects. The village then has three options: to remain in the floodplain, relocate further west or to dissolve entirely, which Baker said is the worst-case scenario. “You have a pretty huge debt, as we just talked about, and if you aren’t able to continue to function as a village, that is an option,” she said.

“I think Tom can attest, nothing goes fast in the federal government, so if we could get you moving in 2022, that’s three years from the event, that’s a good deal, I think as far as the timeline goes. ”The new location would also keep Winslow’s old zip code and provide additional funding streams, as many organizations won’t put money into a floodplain, as well as more after the comprehensive plan is completed. Baker said a land lottery would be held this winter in which residents would draw numbers to choose the order in which they would get to choose lots. Although Winslow would still have to maintain the original levee as part of its 50-year agreement until 2054, the new area would allow for growth, as Baker said a Casey’s gas station was brought up at one point. “That would be great for the school, as well as the community, to have something like that,” she said.

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