PENDER — It's easy to see Bill Newton's point when he talks about the reopening of a bridge on one of the main routes into and out of Pender and whether it's helped things return to normal here.
"What do you mean back to normal? What is normal?" asked Newton, chairman of Pender's village board.
It's a point well taken, considering that a gravel road to the west of his diesel repair shop north of town is still closed because of damage caused by flooding in March. Flooding in back-to-back years has damaged sewer lines and the town's storm sewer system. At least half a dozen homeowners continue to deal with flood-damaged homes.
"Normal" in Pender has taken on a different meaning, and a prominent reminder of that stood on the east edge of town all spring and summer.
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When an intense storm system hit the region March 14, water from heavy rains and rapidly melting snow, along with ice and debris, filled Logan Creek. As all that water inundated Pender and the rushing floodwaters damaged the west approach and undercut supports beneath the bridge on Nebraska 94, the main route into and out of town from the east.
The bridge was closed for repairs for nearly seven months, forcing motorists to drive an extra seven or eight miles out of their way to get to and from town.
The bridge may be open, but contractors continue work to stabilize the creek banks beneath it. Next summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must replace tons of dirt that floodwaters washed away between Pender's protective flood wall and the creek channel.
Newton said the village board hopes it can secure grants or other federal emergency funds to pay Pender's share, which could reach an estimated $250,000.