Timeline for Fremont accessibility is still unclear, officials say; volunteers offer flights at airport
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Timeline for Fremont accessibility is still unclear, officials say; volunteers offer flights at airport

Fremont Airport people waiting

People wait with loved ones and friends who are being flown out of Fremont Municipal Airport on March 17 after flood waters made roads impassable. Companies and volunteers flew people out of the city. In the back, city officials talk with Nebraska Army National Guard and other experts.

Driving to and from Fremont was still impossible for residents as of Sunday evening, as all major roads surrounding the city remained closed due to the flooding that has plagued eastern Nebraska for days.

Fremont became a virtual island on Friday as roads closed, and on Sunday, state officials said that while some water had receded off the roadways, there was no timeline on when routes in and out of the city would become accessible.

“We understand how anxious folks are to establish transportation in and out of Fremont. I understand that some water has started to recede off of a few of the roadways,” said Jeni Campana of the Nebraska DOT in an email to the Tribune. “Our folks have been driving the roads and have established a route for first responders only. We don’t have a timeline for other routes as we have to wait for the water to recede for us to inspect and repair if necessary.”

Campana added, however, that crews have been working “round the clock” to clear roadways and inspect them, and that the agency would issue press releases and Twitter updates as roadways open up: “Look for those beginning tomorrow,” Campana said.

Meanwhile in Fremont, City Administrator Brian Newton said he, too was unsure of when a route would be open, adding that the city had not been in communication with the state.

South Broad Street, which remains largely flooded, could be closed for another two or three days, Newton added.

“And that depends on the flow -- it all depends on the flow of water on the Platte,” Newton said. “So the Platte has got to drop before the flow stops.”

At this point, all evacuations within city limits have been lifted, Newton said.

While the roads in and out of Fremont were impassable, travel was still possible by air -- thanks in large part to a group of volunteer pilots who have been shuttling people and supplies between the Fremont Municipal Airport and the Millard Airport, with occasional flights to Lincoln as well.

Flights have been offered by outfits such as Advanced Air out of Council Bluffs, Silverhawk Aviation out of Lincoln and Angel Flight, as well as some individual pilots who have volunteered their time and planes. Many of the flights have been offered for free.

“We’re just telling people to show up, and getting them on a plane out of Fremont as soon as there’s a plane and pilot available,” said Deb Mullally, office manager at the Fremont Municipal Airport.

Generosity has also come from out of state, Mullally said.

“It’s amazing. I’ve had calls from Oregon and Michigan, people donating money for the pilots for fuel,” Mullally said. “That is pretty cool.”

The airport had been busy throughout the day Sunday, helping shuttle people in and out of Fremont, as supplies also arrived by flight from Millard to be picked up by shelter representatives, Mullally said.

Elsewhere in Dodge County, flooding issues persisted. North Bend residents were asked to evacuate, even if their home was dry, after the water and sewer system was deemed to be unusable. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office was asking residents to avoid using the water and sewer system. North Bend Central Public Schools cancelled classes “indefinitely” due to the flooding.

At about 4 p.m. the levee west of North Bend was breached.

Additionally, Dodge County District Court, which typically holds hearings on Mondays, was cancelled as well, according to Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass. That was because Court Reporter Lori Blume would be unable to make it in, and defendants being housed at the Saunders County Jail could not be transported to the Dodge County Courthouse in Fremont.


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