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Vice President Mike Pence took a look at the raging Elkhorn River at Waterloo, which found itself cut off from the outside world by floodwaters.

Pence visited the flood-stricken areas in Nebraska and Iowa on Tuesday at the request of President Donald Trump.

He met with a group of first responders who helped pluck people from their flooded homes along the river's banks. He also thanked Brad and Mary Brown, who used their recreational airboat to guide rescuers to stranded residents, saying, "I never fail to be inspired at moments like this. It's just the best of America."

Pence later visited a temporary shelter set up at a school in Elkhorn, where about 25 people who had been evacuated from their homes were eating dinner. Several also had pets, as the Nebraska Humane Society had set up a makeshift pet shelter in the school's basement.

Pence says the Trump administration will expedite presidential disaster declarations for Nebraska and Iowa.

Pence says he spoke to the governors of both states shortly after landing in Omaha to assure them federal aid will soon be on the way.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds were among a group of Republican leaders accompanying Pence during a brief tour of damaged areas. Others were U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, and Joni Ernst, of Iowa, as well as Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska.

Earlier in the day, Ricketts, who called the flooding "the most widespread disaster we've had in our state's history," signed an emergency declaration for 65 of the state's 93 countries. 

Reynolds says 41 of Iowa's 99 counties are included in her state disaster declaration after massive the flooding, which began a week ago.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture estimates an initial loss of $400 million in livestock and fields alone. The president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates farm and ranch losses could reach $1 billion.

Additionally, hundreds of miles of state roads and bridges will have to be replaced, according to a news release from Sen. Deb Fischer. The Nebraska Department of Transportation estimates the damage to roads and bridges at about $200 million.

And just like Pence's response to the airboat rescues, Fischer said that she has stopped to take notice of the way the state has come together to lend a helping hand.

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"The resilience and resourcefulness of Nebraskans in recent days has impressed the nation," Fischer said in a news release. "As losses mount, the people of our great state hope the federal government will join in these restoration efforts."

The Nebraska Congressional delegation sent a letter to Trump, expressing its "strong support" of Ricketts' emergency declaration, as well as to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We are grateful for the responsiveness and assistance FEMA has already provided to Nebraskans in need and look forward to continued partnership on behalf of our state," the delegation wrote it its letter to Trump. 

#NebraskaStrong photos, videos

 

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Flood damage estimates, 3.19.19

By Tuesday afternoon, Nebraska counties and public power providers reported over $640 million in damage from flooding this month.

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
COUNTIES PRIVATE PUBLIC
Adams $1,000,000
Antelope $7,000,000
Banner $28,456
Boone $2,395,000 $7,925,400
Brown $5,000
Buffalo $1,260,000 $3,520,000
Burt $50,000 $12,235,287
Butler $3,500,000 $2,425,000
Cass $9,634,284 $19,279,000
Cedar $24,041,909
Cherry $9,000
Colfax $500,000 $20,000
Custer $3,065,000 $4,711,800
Dakota $1,820,094
Dodge $20,000
Douglas $1,934,500
Frontier $75,000
Furnas $50,000
Gage $677,500
Garden $50,000
Gosper $75,000
Howard $8,170,000
Jefferson $65,000
Johnson $165,000
Keya Paha $15,000
Knox $12,608,150 $5,194,500
Lancaster $3,750,000
Lincoln $60,010
Logan $250,000
Madison $20,000,000
Morrill $30,000
Nance $1,435,000 $231,360,400
Nemaha $785,000 $6,310,000
Otoe $5,922,800
Pawnee $162,000
Pierce $20,000,000
Richardson $950,000 $2,050,000
Rock $7,500
Saline $82,000 $2,599,100
Sarpy $38,176,306 $105,972,900
Saunders $8,600,000 $25,100,000
Scotts Bluff $296,077
Seward $2,696,102
Thurston $500,000 $1,555,000
Washington $5,500,000 $3,199,600
Wayne $301,800
York $500,000
OTHER
Burt Co. Power $175,000
Loup Power $20,000,000
Niobrara Valley Electric $250,000
Northeast Power $35,000
TOTAL $89,040,740 $553,095,735
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