Evacuation orders partially lifted for parts of Pacific Junction, Mills County

Evacuation orders partially lifted for parts of Pacific Junction, Mills County
Floodwaters surround an Iowa Department of Transportation facility outside Pacific Junction, Iowa, on March 18. The evacuation order issued during the flood has been lifted in some parts of the city. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Evacuation orders have been partially lifted for the west side of Pacific Junction, Iowa, and for some unincorporated areas of Mills County, Iowa.

Residents have been allowed to re-enter the western portion of Pacific Junction from Depot Street and the railroad tracks to the city limits.

Residents are also allowed to return to the following unincorporated areas:

» Lambert Avenue from 180th Street west to the Missouri River.

» 180th Street between Lambert and Kane Avenues.

» Kane Avenue between 180th Street and Karns Road.

» Karns Road between Kane and Lambert Avenues.

People are allowed to return to their property during daylight hours to determine the viability of the premises, according to Mills County Emergency Management.

In addition, the boil order for Glenwood water has been lifted after testing came back negative for bacteria.

But the Glenwood Resource Center is connected to a separate system and must continue to boil water until its system has passed testing.

A water distribution site will remain open through Monday.

Deadline approaching for help with livestock carcass removal

Nebraska officials are urging those who lost livestock in the mid-March storm and subsequent flooding to seek help removing the carcasses before Monday’s deadline.

Ranchers and farmers in federally recognized disaster areas in Nebraska have until April 15 to report the carcasses to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for help removing them.

The department’s carcass removal hotline is 877-253-2603.

Workers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pick up and dispose of the animals.

Here’s why all those hay donations in your Facebook feed are such a big deal

Soon after water came flooding out of Nebraska’s rivers, hay started to come flooding in.

And the deluge hasn’t stopped yet, with donations from around the country arriving daily to feed Nebraska’s cattle.

It’s a situation that makes for a lot of feel-good social media posts. “Goosebumps a mile high,” one woman posted on photos of hay bales being delivered from more than two dozen states.

But it’s also serious business that could make the difference in farmers being able to keep their businesses going.

Consider this: A cow can eat 24 pounds or more of hay each day. One 1,300-pound bale of hay can feed about 40 to 50 cattle for a day.

“That was mind-blowing to me,” said Hannah Sucha, a teacher who along with her parents is helping organize donation efforts in Verdigre, a town of 550 south of Niobrara.

Clint Pischel lost more than 50 calves at his ranch just north of the Niobrara River after the Spencer Dam broke.

He’s received donations through the efforts of Sucha’s family, and he said if he had to buy the hay it would likely cost thousands of dollars a month. He said the hay donations allow him to focus on rebuilding and caring for his cattle’s health.

“Speaking for everybody that has been affected that has received hay, myself included,” Pischel said, “it’s a big help and I think we’d all say a big thank you and we appreciate it more than they know.”

Cows outnumber people in Nebraska, and while not all those cows live in flooded areas, many of them do.

Wet hay will rot quickly. And, in some cases, it washed away.

Some ranchers initially were cut off by flooded roads. In the two weeks after the floods, the Nebraska National Guard dropped 37.5 tons of hay by air and delivered 17.5 tons by ground.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized free emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres, with proper paperwork, for Nebraska producers who lost pasture or fences due to flooding through April 30. The same was authorized for Iowa this week through May 14.

Almost immediately after the floods, people from around the country — from as far away as Vermont, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as closer neighbors — began sending truckloads of hay, and the donations continued to arrive last week.

It’s often people with Nebraska ties, said Steve Pritchard, Boone/Nance County Extension agent.

“It’s amazing, it really gets to be a small world,” he said.

In many places, the flood took out fencing so the cattle can’t be put to pasture to feed. And many fields are too covered in silt and mud to feed the cattle anyway.

This is a problem that’s likely to last until next spring as the flood took out alfalfa as well, said Curt Zimmerer, Sucha’s father.

Without the donated hay and feed, he said, he’s not sure what farmers would do.

“It’s actually pretty serious. We’re going to lose some producers,” he said. “You can go get a loan, but everybody’s already got some debt and then you’ve got to put some more debt on top of what you have. It’s going to be a big burden. It’s going to be really stressful.”

He and his wife, Sherri, recently sold Verdigre Stockyard and now run Zim Metal and Welding. But for the last month their full-time job has been to run what is essentially a feed store, except for free for agricultural flood victims from around the area.

What people need, they said, is hay, fencing and other equipment to put up fencing, even simple items like hammers and gloves.

“It’s overwhelming the amount of support and donations and love that has come into our community,” Sherri Zimmerer said. “Really, we had no clue that would happen; all these people from all over the country have reached out to us.”

She added: “As much help as we’re getting, these farmers need it.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.