Roadtrip Notebook

72 hours, over 1000 miles, 10 interviews, countless beautiful views. It was an incredible trip. 

Last week, Flood Feed Media traveled around the state in search of stories about the flood. What we didn’t expect, was to see one happening live. 

Our first stop was Gavin’s Point Dam on the Missouri River near Yankton, South Dakota, where we spoke with Gavin’s Point Operations Project Manager, Tom Curran. Curran told us how the decision was made to release water and what the water management team takes into consideration when releasing water of high quantities.

After our interview with Curran, our two cars split up to cover multiple stories in one day. One car went to the Santee Sioux Reservation, while the other car went to Spencer. 

While at the Santee Sioux Nation Headquarters in Niobrara, we spoke to Tribal Chairman, Roger Trudell about how the flood was handled by people on the reservation. We also met with an EMT on the reservation who painted a picture of how the recovery process worked. 

In Spencer, we spoke with the president of the Boyd County Rural Water District, Rex Black. Black explained how the village of Spencer has been handling the lack of drinking water for around four months, now. He even took us to the bridge on Highway 281 and showed us what it looks like today. 

Also in Spencer, we spoke to the manager at the local swimming pool. She gave us insight as to how the village of Spencer helped get the pool up and running.

To round out the end of day one, we drove to Chadron. During the ride, we started to see the landscape slowly change from cropland to pastures. 

In Chadron, we were up with the sun and took a timelapse of the sunrise. Once the sun was fully risen, a couple members of our group went to Toadstool Geological Park. , the whole crew went to Chadron State Park to photograph beautiful views of our Nebraska landscape. We even found paddleboats to be an interesting form of transportation to take videos from. 

After driving around Chadron State Park, we met a young rancher who braved the blizzard that happened in March and was also affected by the flooding that occurred around the same time. He showed us around his pasture and we even met his many dogs and horses. 

While in Chadron, we stopped and met the Vice President of the Farmer’s State Bank who had donated water to Spencer during their time of need. 

Leaving Chadron, we stopped in Alliance to experience a famous Nebraska landmark, Carhenge. We snapped a few pictures and decided to head south. With the standing cars in our rearview, we headed for Grand Island. 

On our way to Grand Island, we heard of the flooding happening in Kearney. We cancelled our plans that we initially had for the third day of our trip and geared up to head into the flood waters. 

In Kearney, pulled off on a side street where we saw water flooding the road. While taking in our surroundings, we heard a truck pull up behind us. Steve, the man in the white truck, told us his home was on the other side of the water that had washed away his driveway. Because he couldn’t drive to his home, he decided to kayak. 

We drove on, and ended up at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. We walked into a fairly busy dormitory where they housed over 200 people the night before. Some of these people were unable to stay in their hotel near the interstate because of the flash flood. 

Near Axtell, we found a farmer who had canoe to his barns to feed his goats. This didn’t seem to bother him as he was describing the scene from the night before while walking on gravel without shoes. 

From seeing flowing flood waters, to taking in the view of the Black Hills from the top of a bluff in Chadron State Park, we had many opportunities to experience Nebraska in unique and unexpected ways. 

The people we met were hospitable and generous. We were welcomed into homes, given canned water from residents of Spencer, and shown around a ranch full of horses, cows, and dogs in Chadron. The places we went were breathtaking and were visions of the lifestyle they held. But most importantly, we saw Nebraska for what it is, a state that many take pride in calling, home.

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