Between September 2018 and March 2019, Nebraska experienced its fifth wettest year in 124 years when Winter Storm Ulmer (a bomb cyclone that is the equivalent of a category 2 hurricane) brought blizzard conditions and flooding to the region. This event closed over a third of the of the state’s transportation system. With damages estimated at $1.2 billion and 84 of its 93 counties receiving disaster declarations, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) quickly got to work to help get residents moving again and address the damages to infrastructure. Twenty-seven of the state’s bridges were in need of repair and 200 miles of pavement needed to be replaced.
Working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, Nebraska’s Office of Emergency Management and Economic Development Agencies, as well as contractors, NDOT repaired, designed and replaced the damaged transportation infrastructure throughout 2019. In order to do this effectively and keep the public informed of the progress, NDOT and its partners held community meetings and roundtables, teleconferences, and press conferences. In addition, websites and a dashboard were utilized to further communicate the work progress to the community and support the overall efforts of this large project. Within 30 days, 99 percent of the closed highways were reopened and NDOT was able to reestablish mobility, connect communities and support the economy by rebuilding the transportation network in to get people moving again./