Juneteenth in a Floodplain


Juneteenth is a holiday on June 17th to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday celebrates the first day the abolishment of slavery was enacted in Texas, the final state to do so, in 1865. This past week, Equal Justice Corps (EJC) fellows from Lincoln joined the Clyde Malone Community Center at Trago Park to commemorate the historical day and make equal justice happen.

At this event, Equal Justice Corps fellows talked with members of the community about how Legal Aid of Nebraska can help them fight for equality. Trago park – and the communities around it – are very near Antelope Creek. Neighborhoods like Clinton and the North Bottoms are next to streams like Dead Man’s Run and Salt Creek. These waterways contribute to a threat of flooding that many residents of these communities cannot afford to combat.

The city of Lincoln has experienced two 100 year rainfall events in the past five years. A rain of that magnitude has a 1% chance to occur each year. For that to happen twice within five years indicates an increase in the frequency and severity of the storms that brought the rain. Luckily, Lincoln was prepared. Even with the 100 year rains, there were no 100 year floods – floods that could have left thousands without adequate homes. The frequency and severity of the storms causing disaster are not something to be ignored, so Legal Aid of Nebraska is acknowledging that threat with the Disaster Relief Project.

IMG_1763At the Malone Center celebration of Juneteenth, EJC members heard stories from community members about their struggles with floods and disasters. One individual, who had moved to Lincoln only eight years ago, experienced flooding troubles in four of those eight years. This individual was a renter whose basement flooded multiple times and had to learn to prepare for water damage. When floods occur, renters are responsible for repairing or replacing their own property and wait for their landlords to replace or repair the damaged home. This process can result in legal issues with tenant – landlord relations, as well as loss of legal documents, and many other problems.

Juneteenth remembers and celebrates the day slavery ended in the United States and a step was taken in the direction of equal justice. The Equal Justice Corps, Legal Aid of Nebraska, and Civic Nebraska aim to continue that progress through promoting the Disaster Relief Project and giving people the information they need to be prepared.

 Community members near waterways can look into interactive maps to determine if they are in a 100 year floodplain and consider the threats that come along with their location.

The environment impacts all of us, but a changing one will impact communities within floodplains much more severely than ones that are not, to no fault of their own. Understanding this threat and being prepared for it are the first steps that need to be taken to achieve equal justice!

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