LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Farm owners in eastern Nebraska are despairing after receding floodwaters left 80 acres of their pasture covered in sand, saying the cost of removal exceeds the value of the land.
Jim Hoppe and his brother Richard told the Lincoln Journal Star that they used to rent their property in Colfax County to cattle owners. But since the Platte River swamped the farm in March , the sand has been a problem.
“We’ll leave it to grow whatever grows in it. That’s all you can do,” Richard Hoppe said. “Will something grow on top of sand? Eventually. What? I don’t know.”
Jeremy Doernemann’s construction company estimated that it could roughly cost $1.2 million to clean up the sand burying the pasture. And because the sand levels are different throughout farmland, that number is merely a ballpark estimate.
“It’s a big number, because nobody really knows what the rules are,” Doernemann said. “It’s a lot of shooting from the hip.”
Richard Hoppe said the land is worth, at most, $4,000 per acre, based on a recent sale of neighboring land. So clearing the sand was not cost effective.
While not all of the 650-acre (260-hectare) farm is swamped with sand, cattle can’t be kept on the property for now because of all the fencing that was washed away.
“We don’t need, like, 10 fence posts,” Richard Hoppe. “We need, like, four or five semi loads of fence posts.”
The flooding also encumbers access to the farm because it swept away an entire mile off a road leading to the property. The land can’t make the family money until the road reopens.
County Attorney Denise Kracl said the flood damaged 120 to 140 miles (190 to 225 kilometers) of Colfax County roads, with some repairs requiring a few hours and others a few weeks.
“There are so many damaged counties from flooding and snowmelt,” said Mike Arps, the county’s highway superintendent.
Arps was reluctant to say when the repairs would be completed because construction companies are so busy.