The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Toll adds up for Sept. 9 storm


The city of Sidney is still working to cleanup after the Sept. 9 storm.

Many power lines throughout town were damaged during the storm. Some of these lines were already slated for underground conversion, so officials decided to go ahead with the project on the lines at Pine and Dorwart, as well as others, instead of repairing the existing above-ground network.

Some city employees worked for close to 36 consecutive hours to ensure that the city was back on track in the hours and days after the storm, according to emergency manager John Hehnke. The city pays for overtime work for city employees out of the annual overtime budget, but if many bad storms occur in the same year which require a lot of work, the city has to take the funds out of another part of the budget to ensure it balances.

Many trees on city property were downed or damaged in the storm. Trees downed in the cemetery or in the park are kept at those locations for future wood chipping. Smaller branches and limbs from these trees are ground up with the parks department's small chipper for mulch to go around the base of trees. All the bigger stumps and full tree trunks are currently taken out to the landfill's tree pile.

These trees will either be burnt or chipped, depending on whether or not the city buys a new grinder. The city's grinder failed earlier this year. It will cost approximately $300,000 to replace this machine. Officials have discussed entering into an agreement with a private business owner to grind up the city's trees, so that the city doesn't have to buy the new equipment, but no official plans have yet been decided.

Sidney is no stranger to flash flooding because of the way the city was originally designed, according to Hehnke. The flooding that happened in some parts of town Sept. 9 was atypical, however. The city hadn't encountered high amounts of water on Illinois St. in quite a while, thanks to a new storm drain system. The two inches of water that fell in around an hour and a half on Sept. 9 overwhelmed it, however.

The storm drain on 7th Ave. is a typical area with problem flooding because of the small storm drains, Hehnke added.

The underpass flooded so badly during and after the storm because the electric lines that run the pumps removing water from this area burnt out and city employees couldn't rebuild the line during the storm.

"At some point we have to pull crews off," Hehnke said.

Because of the intermittent nature of storms on Sept. 9, at certain points the city had to tell workers to quit for safety reasons.


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