Nebraska,  Quality of Life Benefits of Transportation,  Resilience

Historic Nebraska Flooding – Ryde Transit and NDOT Maintenance Rescue Flood Victims (Part 3 of 3)

On July 9, 2019, as the floodwaters rose in Kearney, RYDE Transit activated its emergency management plan and sprang into action.  Their transit buses navigated flooded streets to rescue travelers from all over the world and transport them to safety.  Eight vehicles provided 239 passenger trips in one day almost doubling their average ridership in Kearney.

In addition to local residents, visitors on vacation and business travelers stranded by floodwaters gratefully hopped on public transit vehicles to escape the rising water.  Drivers reported transporting people from Canada, Qatar, Oregon, Texas, and California.

RYDE has an agreement with Buffalo County Emergency Management to provide transportation to evacuate as needed.  Charles McGraw, RYDE Transit Manager, says, “We have had drills on coordination.  Our role in the evacuation is to get those individuals being evacuated to an emergency shelter and then to some type of temporary housing (hotels, University, etc.).

NDOT provided loaders to assist with rescue operations.  The Supervisor, Crew Chief, Highway Maintenance Worker, Sr. from Kearney West, and the Nebraska State Patrol used the loaders to rescue people from the Younes hotels in Kearney and transport them away from the flooded area.  This was a dangerous job, as people, including a person in a wheelchair, were loaded into the bucket and driven through 3 feet to 5 feet of water.  Curbs, landscaping and fire hydrants were all underwater, which made maneuvering the obstacles a challenge.  Thanks to their efforts, everyone was safely evacuated from the premises.

At the peak of the flooding, over 3,300 miles of roads were closed due to blizzard conditions or water on the roads.  By March 23rd, as waters receded, less than 200 miles remained closed.  This work reflects the NDOT’s strong dedication and commitment to serving its citizens and restoring mobility to Nebraska.

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