Beemer family moves on after devastation

Special to the Daily News

Six inches of water and mud sits in their basement.

All types of furniture are toppled on each other โ€” a bed, a dresser and even a piano.

This was the reality of Kevin and Claudia Liermanโ€™s home near here.

On March 13, reports began to swirl around the state of potentially historic levels flooding. Living near the Elkhorn River, the Liermans knew they might be affected. In 2011, they had some flooding in the basement. They knew this flood had the possibility to be larger in scope, but they didn’t really expect all that much more.

The Liermans decided to consult Kevin’s father, Arlen, who also lives with the couple, about whether to stay or go. Arlen knew of a family who had lived during a flood on the same farm in 1962. In that situation, the wife decided not to evacuate only to have to be later rescued on a boat.

“I am not leaving here on a boat, so we are going,” Arlen said.

Arlen had lived on this piece of land for 42 years. In 1997, Kevin and Claudia moved there to help farm the 260 acres of land while also raising pigs. Kevin also runs a bar, Chesters, in Beemer and worked as a construction contractor for a period of time. Claudia ran a hair salon.

Farming may have not been everything to the Liermans, but the farm was.

During the days after the flood waters hit, the Liermans would drive as close as they could to the house, hoping to see that the water had stopped just short of reaching it. There were worries, but they tried to stay optimistic.

“We knew water had probably gotten into the basement. We were just hoping it wasn’t submerged,” Claudia said.

But the basement was submerged. Four feet of water stood all around the farm. One grain bin full of three years’ worth of harvested soybeans had collapsed. Another was lifted off of its foundation. A refrigerator that was stored in the garage somehow squeaked past the cars and ended up a half mile away.

Arlen was particularly concerned. A trailer house on the property had been around for 42 years. He didn’t want to give it up. His son and daughter-in-law made sure to come up with a plan to provide him with reassurance.

“We have made it certain he knows he is coming back. He has calmed down since then now that he knows that,” Claudia said.

The Liermansโ€™ goal is to rebuild on the same piece of land where the house is at now. The family is collecting all their valuables out of the house to begin rebuilding.

The process won’t be easy. Kevin said he thinks there is at least $500,000 in loss between the loss of soybeans, land, vehicles and even some flood damage at the bar Kevin owns in town.

But the family is still thinking about the future.

A visitor to the farm on a recent day could not tell what the family was going through just by driving in the yard. Kevin, his son and some hired hands were receiving hogs. Claudia was packing up the belongings. Their dog, Amos, ran around the yard.

“Well, we’ll build a house, and I guess we will be fine,” Claudia said. “I think we are all in the acceptance stage, and it is time to move on.”

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