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Andrew Swartz

Projects from YouTube UNO Journalism Site & Web Stories

by Andrew Swartz

The impact of the “Flood of 2011” may still be difficult to quantify for some, but for those who were directly affected by the floodwaters of the Missouri River, it’s pretty clear…Devastation.
That’s the word many people would use after the flood ruined their houses, farmland, and in some cases towns.  Hundreds of families and many neighborhoods had to evacuate their homes and put most of their things into to storage units due to the widening floodwaters.

The city of Omaha had to spend millions in its efforts to contain the water and prevent it from damaging the beautiful downtown and all its many small businesses.  At one point, there was concern about the viability of the College World Series due to the potential of floodwaters filling parking lots near the brand new TD Ameritrade Park.

OPPD also had to spend millions to protect its nuclear power plant near Fort Calhoun.  “We put in an Aquadam and built up several berms out of dirt in order to protect the equipment and stay in operation,” plant shift manager, Gene Creamer says. The plant is now doing underground tests to identify whether there is any long-term damage caused by the months of standing water.
Not all the affects of the flood have been negative.  Phillips 66/Eddy’s store manager Bruce Huebner said his business has noticeably increased due to the detoured I-29 traffic. The store is located in Glenwood, Iowa, and is off the last exit before the interstate closes. In addition to the increase in business, Huebner says he has printed directions on how to get out of town as it has become common for people to get lost due to the detour.

The Iowa Department of Transportation hopes to have closed sections of I-29 and I-680 open again by the end of this year but it could be next spring or even fall before everything is back to normal.

Home Games

The UNO men’s soccer team played host to Mercer University in a rare home match this past Friday. One of two new additions (men’s golf) to the UNO Athletics lineup, the soccer team is facing a challenge this season that transcends to every sport except hockey.

The number of home games on the schedule leaves something to be desired with only 3 out of 13 games taking place in Omaha.  It’s the same case for women’s soccer, only three home games.  Volleyball has played host to one tournament and one individual match, with their last home match coming up this Wednesday.  The story is the same across the board.

There is no doubt that the hours and hours of travel will take a toll on the Maverick teams over the course of the season, but it’s a price they are willing to pay in order to compete for Division 1 championships in the future.

The soccer team hopes to continue be able to play at least once a season at Werner Park as they did on Friday as way to generate some excitement for fans and unique soccer experience.

Occupy Omaha Protest

The Occupy Wall Street group is starting to really make its presence felt, and not just on the famous street in New York.  The group is garnering more and more support through the formation of similar groups in large cities across the nation.

Omaha has its own version of the group and is starting to develop its own platform along with its support for the main group in New York.  Occupy Omaha has done some small-scale protesting up until this point but are prepping now to do their biggest protest yet on Saturday, October 15.

They plan on meeting up in front of City Hall in downtown Omaha at 9 a.m. and marching all the way to the Federal Reserve. The group has formed several committees in order to be organized in their efforts.

This political movement may be a trendsetter in some ways as the majority of its growth has taken place via the social media, specifically Facebook.  As Emiliano Grassi, an Occupy Omaha participant says, it’s a very cost effective, yet very wide reaching method to get the message out to the masses.

The group is hoping for a large turnout for the protest on Saturday and hopes to maintain a professional and calm approach throughout their demonstration.

Non-Profit Food

            The fact that the economy is struggling is not something that is lost on anyone these days.  For non-profit organizations that provide services and food to those in need, the impact is noticeable.

            Both the Open Door Mission and the Food Bank For The Heartland are aware of the fact that they are in need of more donations this year to go along with an increase in the demand for the services that their organizations offer.  The Food Bank For The Heartland supplies food to over 350 various organizations in 93 counties across Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa.  The Open Door Mission provides 1,700 hot and nutritious meals a day and, according to James Cummings, they expect to provide somewhere around 100,000 of these types of meals during the upcoming holiday season.

            Angela Grote, a member of the marketing team for the Food Bank, says that the Holidays often bring organizations like hers to the front of peoples’ minds.  She says the Food Bank anticipates an increase in donations and fundraisers to help meet the need that has clearly increased this year compared to last.   Cummings says the Open Door Mission has had a similar increase in the need for the organization’s services as they project to need 37% more food this year than last.

            If you would like to get involved with or donate to either the Food Bank or the Open Door Mission, you can visit their websites at and respectively.


            The farmers in eastern Nebraska are experiencing one of their all around better harvest season’s in recent memory.  There are several reasons for the successful harvest.
For example, it has been a very quick and easy process due the cooperation of weather conditions. There has been little to no precipitation during the harvesting time so the farmers have not had to stop or take days off in order for the crop to dry adequately.  Steave Harmon, who farms a few miles north of Fremont, says he can remember having to wait until the following March to finish up the harvest due to early snowfall.

            The prices for corn and other crops have also made this season a profitable one.  Part of the reason for higher prices falls on the fact that there were many farmers who were unable to enjoy the harvest after losing many if not all of their fields due to the flooding this past summer.  The Cargill plant in Blair, for instance, is very near to those affected by the flood and is buying corn at a significantly higher price than other places in an attempt to draw sellers from farther away.  High yields and good prices are a good thing for farmers, which is a good thing for the Nebraska economic outlook.

Dr. Pepper

            University of Nebraska Omaha student, Will Gottner, was recently named a recipient for one of Dr. Pepper’s $2,500 scholarships.  In addition, Gottner will have the chance to compete for the opportunity to win another $100,000 at the upcoming Big Ten Championship football game on Dec. 3. 

            The story becomes more endearing when you learn more of the background of Will.  Born in South Korea, Will was adopted into a family that now includes 13 brothers and sisters.  Understandably, his parents cannot afford to help pay for his education, but that hasn’t stopped Will from pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a Pediatrician. Gottner says he finds fulfillment in being able to help others and sees becoming a doctor as great way to continue helping people for the rest of his life.

            Will is going to travel to Indianapolis on Dec. 1, where he will compete against five other finalists for the chance to be one of the final two contestants on the field at halftime of the game. These final contestants will attempt to throw footballs into large replica Dr. Pepper cans with a two-foot wide hole near the top of the can. The contestant with the most successful throws will then win the $100,000 scholarship.