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Adams County declares state of emergency following Aug. 23 storm

Adams County has declared a stage of emergency related to the Aug. 23 severe thunderstorm and subsequent damage caused by heavy rains and flooding, strong winds and hail, county officials announced Monday.

The state of emergency means significant damage was caused by the storm, and county officials want to be prepared to supply all necessary information that could bring assistance to the affected communities through state and federal channels.

The emergency declaration, signed by Eldon Orthmann, chairman of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, covers all of Adams County and villages within the county. It allows for "the expenditure of emergency funds from all available sources, the invoking of mutual aid agreements, and the applying to the state of Nebraska for assistance from the Governor's Emergency Fund and any other resources" deemed necessary.

The early morning storm socked the west side of Hastings and areas west and north of Hastings most severely. Rain totals of up to 7 inches were recorded in the county.

"Although our assessments are only preliminary at this time, we feel that a state disaster MAY be declared," said a news release issued Monday afternoon by the Adams County Emergency Management Agency. "If that is the case, Adams County wants to ensure that our county, our residents, and any of the businesses that may have been affected by this storm have an opportunity to receive disaster-declared benefits to help with the costs incurred to clean up, repair or replace items."

Citizens or businesses within Adams County wishing to report damage can send a detailed list to Ron Pughes, Adams County Emergency Management director, at rpughes@acema.org or call the office at 402-461-2360.

There's no guarantee that funds will be made available, or even thtat the state of Nebraska will declare a disaster for the Aug. 23 storm, which has been followed up by additional rainfall that has exacerbated flooding in parts of Adams County and the surrounding area. If a state disaster is declared, a process would be initiated to analyze if individual or public assistance would become available.

Adams County Emergency Management encourages county residents to take photographs prior to completing any demolition or repairs related to storm cleanup, and to keep copies of receipts for expenses, and contact their insurance companies to make a claim.

Those suspecting they have mold in their homes may contact the South Heartland District Health Department for mold remediation and contaminant information. The contact number is 402-462-6211.

Motorists are urged to remain alert to barricades on county roads and respect them, as roads throughout central Adams County have sustained damages. Soft roads and shoulders also could pose hazards, so drivers should slow down on gravel.