The April Hot Topics gathering at Scooter’s Coffee on April 10 included a flood update from Otoe County Emergency Management and a presentation on the future of a statue of J. Sterling Morton from Dr. Sara Crook of Peru State College.
OCEMA Director Gregg Goebel and Steve Cody, OCEMA assistant director, told the audience no timetable is in place for when Highway 2 will reopen.
Goebel said issues with a levee northwest of Percival are the reason the highway is still underwater.
He added that no damage reports have been received on the Highway 2 bridge, but the Coast Guard has been unable to fully inspect the structure.
OCEMA is helping 232 people who have been displaced by the flooding, said Goebel, and efforts are underway to try to get representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to come to Nebraska City to help anyone who has been directly affected by the flood but who is unable to visit a FEMA temporary office in Fremont County due to work schedules.
Goebel said the old Community Memorial Hospital site in Syracuse is being looked at as a temporary housing site for displaced workers, and he added that the old St. Mary’s Hospital site in Nebraska City is not a viable temporary housing option.
Crook began the monthly program with a brief history of the Morton statue, which is currently located near the Visitor’s Center in the U.S. Capitol.
Plans call for the statue to be replaced with one honoring Willa Cather in 2020, said Crook.
The other Nebraska statue in the Capitol, which honors William Jennings Bryan, will be replaced with a statue of Chief Standing Bear later this year, said Crook.
Crook said that the Hall of Fame Commission will issue a request for proposals later this year for entities interested in providing a permanent home for the Morton statue.
She said the proposal must include a safe, permanent site for the statue, which is bronze on a marble pedestal and weighs about 1,700 pounds, as well as an appropriate celebration when the statue returns to Nebraska.