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Pence Floods

Vice President Mike Pence (right) meets with first responders and volunteers who had helped evacuate people to safety during Elkhorn River flooding near Omaha. Pence toured the flood-stricken areas in Nebraska and Iowa on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has approved Nebraska's request for federal disaster assistance in response to historic flooding throughout the state.

The declaration issued Thursday provides federal aid to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts. It also opens the door to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help affected residents.

Gov. Pete Ricketts submitted the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday. Ricketts says federal assistance will play a key role in the recovery effort.

Ricketts thanked the president for his quick action.

“Nebraskans have already been stepping up to begin the journey to recovering from the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history. As we rebuild together, federal assistance is a key part of ensuring that we keep Nebraska strong and growing,” Ricketts said.

Federal funding will be available to affected individuals in the hard-hit counties of Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

In other affected counties, federal funding will kick in on a cost-sharing basis in completing repairs.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

At a briefing for state senators on Thursday, Bryan Tuma of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said "things are beginning to get better" as floodwaters recede.

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"We are transitioning out of the response phase and are focused on recovery now," he told senators during a briefing conducted with Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general.

"We are moving from 14-hour days to 10-hour days now," Bohac said. 

Some 379 Nebraska National Guard personnel have been supporting the disaster response effort.  

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Assistant city editor

Shelly Kulhanek is assistant city editor.

Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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