The North Bend Eagle


City agrees to support ditch improvment, hopes to prevent flooding

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/26/20

Larry Ruzicka, chairman of the North Bend Drainage District, attended the Aug. 18 North Bend City Council meeting to gain support for a project he said will prevent future flooding.

During a trip to Fremont, he notice the east bank of the Fremont Cuttoff Ditch built up to combat flooding.

“That got me thinking of the North Bend Cutoff Ditch,” Ruzicka said. “If they can do that there, why can’t we do that here?”

He said North Bend’s biggest concern for flooding is Shell Creek, which runs north of Schuyler and joins the Platte River between Schuyler and Rogers.

The majority of floods in recent decades, including 1990 and 2008, have been the result of Shell Creek flood water overwhelming the cutoff ditch. Ruzicka said the water from the Shell Creek played a major factor in the North Bend Cuttoff Ditch, three miles west of North Bend, failing and sparking the flood of March 2019.

“That ditch has always held the river,” Ruzicka said. “I think we could have held the river water if that’s all we would have had. So I guess our emphasis is trying to stop Shell Creek.”

Ruzicka proposed building up the cutoff ditch bank by 18 inches high and 26 feet wide, which is similar to what the Fremont Cutoff Ditch was raised. He said using the figures from that project, the North Bend Cutoff Ditch improvement is estimated at $1.7 million.

FEMA would pay 75% of that cost if it approves the project. Ruzicka, with help from county officials, is applying for a community block grant to cover the rest of the cost. Ruzicka has been told there is a very high chance they would get the grant and that in all likelihood, the city won’t have to pay anything for the project.

However, the grant application requires a list of the entities obligated for the remaining 25%. Ruzicka said the city of Fremont, Dodge County and the Lower Platte NRD have each pledged $100,000 and the drainage district $25,000. Ruzicka asked the city of North Bend to pledge $100,000.

“I think this is a very worthwhile project for the community,” Ruzicka said. “The opportunity for this FEMA money and community grant money doesn’t come along very often. Even if the grant money doesn’t come, it’s still a reasonable cost project for the protection we’re getting.”

With one councilman calling the measure a “no-brainer,” the council voted 4-0 to support the project and pledge the $100,000, if needed.



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