Flood-hit businesses struggle to restore customer volume
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some Nebraska and Iowa businesses are still struggling to recover from flooding that damaged their properties or otherwise kept customers away from their doors.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that in Nebraska alone, more than 1,000 businesses were affected by March’s severe weather.
Flooding continued into May and June in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, especially along the Missouri River. Central Nebraska got hit by flash floods earlier this month, hurting Kearney’s hotel and tourism industry.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that businesses and boosters have been taking extra steps to send a message: Our towns and businesses haven’t been wiped out, and we need customers now more than ever.
In northeast Nebraska’s Knox County, for example, officials have been handing out maps so visitors can navigate flood-damaged roads and bridge reconstruction. The community of Verdigre held an event called “Good As New” at the end of May.
A Harley-Davidson dealership in Iowa’s Pacific Junction threw a party at the end of June to celebrate the dealership’s return to its regular location after cleaning up and repairing soggy drywall. Loess Hills Harley-Davidson moved employees and motorcycles to a temporary building in nearby Glenwood for months after taking on 18 inches of water.
“We can either sit back and say we’re victims and we’re going to play the pity party or say, hey, were going to take the opportunity to make something good out of something bad,” general manager Dan Roland said.
Agricultural company Cargill has helped employees pay for hotels in Nebraska City to ensure operations at its plant there weren’t interrupted too much by road closures and detours.
Interstate 29 across the river in Iowa was closed by flooding, and the Iowa Highway 2 link to the bridge over the Missouri to Nebraska City was under water for weeks as well.
Developers are speeding plans to build more housing on the Nebraska City side of the Missouri, in case Iowa residents hurt by flooding decide not to rebuild, said Dan Mauk, executive director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp.