LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska State Unit on Aging, a unit of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, has been approved for a $97,205 grant from the Administration for Community Living for Disaster Assistance for eighty counties that were affected by the blizzards and flooding in March.

Those events led to the collapse of the Spencer hydroelectric dam and the increased water release rate from the Gavin’s Point dam. Widespread damage and flooding to public and private infrastructure disrupted vital services to older Nebraskans as towns were evacuated, senior centers lost critical utilities and equipment, roads were impassable, and bridges were severely damaged by ice floes.

A total of 73 senior centers were closed from one to 81 days, removing 1,919 meals from the nutrition programs and other support services to 570 clients.

“We are grateful for the federal disaster grant — it will help the Area Agencies on Aging buy and replenish shelf stable meals for clients statewide,” said Cynthia Brammeier, administrator for the State Unit on Aging. “Nutrition programs are the largest program Area Agencies on Aging manage in terms of budget and services provided. Nutrition is about $5.5 million in federal and state funding — which provided 1.6 million meals last year. Of those meals, 45% were home delivered. Area Agencies on Aging provide and manage over 30 programs and services statewide, helping people age in place — remaining in the community of their choice for as long as possible.”

Senior Centers in northeast Nebraska were particularly hard hit, with Cedar Rapids, Beaver Valley in St. Edward, and Boyd County in Spencer receiving the most significant damage and long-term disruption of services. Grant funds will largely be provided to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging, whose service area includes these three centers, for repairs and other losses to continue to serve the seniors who depend upon these services.

In addition, each Area Agency on Aging across the state will receive funding to replenish their inventory of shelf-stable meals, also known as “blizzard boxes.” These meals are provided to clients in advance of anticipated service disruptions and after unforeseen disruptions. During the March disaster, these meals were vital during the recovery process. The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging (ENOA) has already proactively ordered 800 shelf-stable meals to replenish their supplies for the coming winter.

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