I would like to thank volunteers from Hershey and surrounding areas who worked diligently around the clock to protect the school building and grounds, public infrastructures, businesses and residential property from the South Platte River flood threat. Volunteers filled approximately 8,000 bags at the school over a two-day period, and 25,400 more at the village office in as many days. They supplied food, water and community spirit to those working around the clock.
These volunteers were students, staff, parents, school board members, church members, local business people, village board members, volunteer firemen, area residents and community members who worked tirelessly in defense of this natural disaster.
The berm built on the west side of the town by the village and the east side by the school district funneled the water away from school property and the village.
This was no small task and I want to thank everyone who contributed time, equipment and materials in the construction.
School and village officials attended meetings with the Lincoln County Emergency Management Office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The prediction of the water’s arrival was estimated Thursday afternoon, cresting around midnight.
There is no gauge at the bridge at Hershey, so there was no formal prediction of potential cresting levels of the water. We were informed that once the water arrived it would rise swiftly and quickly -- possibly two or more feet an hour -- and reach flood stage quickly.
We were also informed to expect high traffic from onlookers and that the 56C link could possibly be closed.
Water inundation maps released Tuesday and Wednesday predicted water on school grounds and in village streets, at an unknown height. The village’s engineer shot elevation readings on Tuesday around the village and on school grounds, and based upon this information he recommended at least a three-foot berm and two feet of sandbags around structures.
The village of Hershey is unique in the fact that its elevation is lower than the river banks.
The majority of our student population is transported to school either by school bus or personal automobiles. The safety of our students traveling to and from school was the single most important factor when considering when the school was to be closed.
Based upon the prediction of the water’s arrival on Thursday afternoon, and not knowing how long it would take staff to finish preparing the building by adding plastic to sandbags and by moving contents in classrooms off of the floor and lower shelves, we chose to not have students attend school on Thursday or Friday.
Words cannot describe the outpouring of support that has been shown at our school and in our community throughout the past few days.
We live in the best community in the state. The support of the parents, students, residents and community members ties directly back to how they feel about their school and community.
I also thank the village officials and staff; the county officials, Hershey Volunteer Fire Department, the Lincoln County Emergency Management Office, the National Weather Service Office in North Platte, LCSO, and the Nebraska Department of Roads for helping us prepare for this event.
By Jane Davis, Superintendent, Hershey Pubic Schools