Local leaders learn how to recover after disaster strikes - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Local leaders learn how to recover after disaster strikes

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Nebraska (KTIV) -- Three years ago, a deadly E-F-5 tornado tore through Parkersburg, Iowa, leveling half of the town.

And, just last year, Neligh, Nebraska saw how heavy rains from the west carried down the Elkhorn River, making a new path through their parks and ripping out bridges.

But, in the wake of disaster city leaders say it's all about recovering.

"Nothing could ever prepare us or anyone else for that matter for a devastation such as an E-F5 tornado," Chris Luhring, of Parkersburg, IA said.

It caused $150-million in damage and killed seven people. But the city of Parkersburg, Iowa didn't waste any time cleaning up. But city leaders say they couldn't have done it without working together.

"The biggest recommendation I would give to any small community or large community is a network. If you don't get along with the local fire departments or local sheriff departments that's a problem and that could possibly damage your ability to recover," Luhring said.

Recovery from disaster is nothing new to folks in Neligh, Nebraska either, after a 500-year flood destroyed several parks and bridges. But thanks to city leadership, recovery was possible.

"You have to document everyone's hours, volunteers, the equipment the volunteers use as well the others, if you have to hire a contractor. All that stuff has to be documented because if its not documented as far as FEMA's concerned, it didn't happen," Lyle Juracek, Neligh, NE City Supervisor said.

Other communities got a chance to listen to their stories during the Midstates Community and Economic Development Conference, taking away one key point from both presentations...

"Be prepared. It never hurts to be up on your training and like Chris has said with your volunteer fire department make sure they do their NIMS training, etcetera," Mary Gross, Mayor of Holstein, IA said.

And that's exactly what officials in these communities say.

"You have to plan for the worst and hope for the less," Juracek said.

About 175 people attended the Midstates Community and Economic Development conference today.

Other workshops included stories and innovative ideas for communities in the area to utilize.

Online Reporter: Katie Gannon

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