Sunday, May 13, 2012

Returning to the River

Video originally published May 12, 2012 on WOWT - Omaha. 
Click here for original link and to view video.

by Gary Smollen
The impact of last summers flood along the Missouri River can still be seen in many areas. People are returning to the river but in some cases some efforts to make things right have been slowed by bureaucracy and thieves.

All along the river there are piles of sand and silt left behind by the receding water. As the Missouri returned inside its banks the people started returning to their recreational areas but it some cases they were totally wiped out.

Channel 6 News was there as one campsite was evacuated last year, on Saturday we returned to see how things have changed.

It's a difficult time for Tom Johnson as he walks around the campsite where he's stayed for years.

Debris left behind by the Missouri River is scattered everywhere. The water marks on the trees show just how much water cut through the campsite.

Tom Johnson says, "Anytime you have property on the river you know you're going to get damage so you go back in, you plug away, you clean it up and you enjoy it."

That’s what Johnson is doing now. He's cleaned the property and planted grass. Now he's waiting for the power to be restored to the River Swamps Campground but that may take a while.

Vandals have hit most of the camp sites in the area, ripping up electrical boxes for the metal inside.

Tom Johnson says, "Now whoever comes back can't just clean up and have the power turned back on even if we get power they have to replace a power pole, they have to replace all that."

Johnson says he's not sure the city will allow electrical lines to reach the campsite.

All of the campers knew when they were evacuating last June that it would be a long time before they could return.

Dan Gibbons was one of the last to leave and was intent on rebuilding on the river but he may have sensed how difficult that would be.

Dan Gibbons says, "That's all you can do if they let you back in if there is anything left they're talking, where we're standing right here, they're talking water his high."

They managed to survive the flood but their return home may be hindered by bureaucracy and thieves.

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