Volunteers are teaming up with the military 90 minutes south of the metro to protect a Nebraska asset.
In Nemaha, not far from the Cooper Nuclear Station, and impressive operation is under way. Volunteers, many of them from the plant itself, were up early filling sandbags on Thursday morning. From there, the sandbags were loaded on Chinook helicopters with the Nebraska National Guard and carried a couple miles to be dropped off at the Cooper Plant. The sandbags will serve as a backup if the levee were to fail, each one of the bags weighing about the same amount as a small car.
Nebraska Army National Guard Sgt. Mike Belleci said, “We have a lot of soldiers in operation who have given up time in their house, which is also in danger, to help out fellow Nebraskans. It's really an awesome thing to be a part of the Guard an organization that gives so much for its people. It's incredible.
The Guard has 18 soldiers on site in Nemaha with other assets in Niobrara and Fremont.
Volunteer Craig Frenzell told 6 News, “That plant is our livelihood. So we want to make sure it runs well and safely." Frenzell has worked at the plant since 1992. On Thursday, he was sandbagging - a lot. “We've gone through 6,000 sandbags this morning. We want to be conservative in case the water from the Dakotas comes down."
The majority of volunteers work where the helicopters are headed.
Michelle Martin said, "Wherever they need my help, that's where I go. If they need food, I go for food. If they need us bagging, that's what I do."
Sgt. Belleci says while the Missouri River levels have gone done in the area, the Guard is preparing for the unexpected. “If we're not in combat and we can help, that's what we're here for."
The Nebraska National Guard has been on site since Monday and they'll stay as long as they're needed.
(Photo courtesy of 6 News)