The ticker tape parade never happened, but it was easily merited.
Countless anonymous public employees in the Omaha area labored for hours, days and weeks on end to save our homes and businesses from flooding in 2011.
We reporters caught a glimpse of their efforts, but only those people “in the trenches” know how hot, dirty and dangerous the work was.
Employees on both sides of the river and in multiple communities worked extremely hard.
This month, the Omaha Public Works Department was singled out by the Nebraska Industrial Council on the Environment for its 2013 Specific Environment Project award.
The award recognizes “environmental excellence, leadership and innovation” needed to fight the flood.
Anyone fighting the river that summer will tell you that the battle was won through a mix of sweat, sacrifice and innovation. Work-arounds were commonplace as quick solutions were needed to fix overtaxed equipment in deteriorating conditions.
After the award was announced, Public Works Director Bob Stubbe rightly noted that his staff didn't labor alone.
“Although I could not be prouder of. . .our employees, the victory over the Missouri River was the result of a team effort,” he said and included city parks workers, firefighters, police officers, the Army Corps of Engineers, private sector employees and volunteers. Billions of dollars in public and private infrastructure were saved by the 105-day fight, Mayor Jim Suttle said.
“The response from our team was nothing short of heroic,” Suttle said. “While I hope we never again have to fight such a battle against Mother Nature, I am confident that city forces and this community would again be up to the challenge.”
You may not have heard of the Nebraska Industrial Council on the Environment or its Specific Environment Project.
But hats off to this group for honoring our heroes in the Omaha Public Works Department — and by extension other public employees.
Take another bow, folks.
We thank you.