Flooding poses new challenges for Iowa and Nebraska schools

Flood 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Iowa and Nebraska school officials in areas that were hit hard by flooding earlier this year expect that once the school year begins, they’ll have to deal with students who are still traumatized or who haven’t been able to return home yet.

March storm helped cause record flooding in parts of Nebraska, Iowa and other states.

School leaders told the Omaha World-Herald that they’re determined to make things as normal as possible for their students, aware that for some kids, school can be the most stable thing in their lives.

In the southwestern Iowa community of Hamburg, some residents whose homes were flooded have scattered to other communities where housing was available.

“We lost 200 homes, and there’s just nowhere for families to come back to,” said school Superintendent Mike Wells. He expects about 20% fewer students when classes begin Aug. 23.

Kerri Nelson, the superintendent in nearby Shenandoah, said it’s still too early to tell how many displaced Hamburg students have moved into her district.

“I really feel for the families because they’re in a difficult position,” Nelson said. “Schools are pretty resilient. We tend to find ways to serve students and tend to find ways to adjust and overcome. But families, they need a lot of support right now.”

In Nebraska’s Fremont Public Schools district, 550 students were displaced by the flooding, which amounts to 10% of its total enrollment. Some were displaced only for a few days, but others were forced out for longer, Superintendent Mark Shepard said.

“We have not had additional requests for transfer paperwork or student records to be forwarded on to another district, which is always the key indicator as to whether or not you’re losing students,” he said.

A bigger concern is students suffering from lingering stress. The first rainstorm after the flooding caused some students at one district elementary school to weep, worried that more flooding was imminent.

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