PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (WOWT) - As the saying goes, come hell or high water...and in 2019 in Plattsmouth and many other communities along the Missouri River -- with high water came hell.

“It all started about four years ago a week from today, so hell’s the right description,” said Erv Portis, former city administrator. “But look at the positive...I mean, this is going to be true recovery.”

Recovery from catastrophe brought on by the Heartland floods of 2019.

Waiting at this railroad crossing is no big deal today in Plattsmouth. Back then, you needed a boat. The wastewater treatment plant was submerged -- the city’s future uncertain -- until federal, state and local came together.

“We’re building back better here so our dollars are going in conjunction with the state, local dollars to build a project for wastewater treatment that’s going to not only help replace aging infrastructure, but it’s going to really position this community for growth in the future,” said Andrea Spillars with FEMA.

Erv was Plattsmouth’s city administrator then. He’s with the state now and is a driving force behind the groundbreaking of what will be a $70-plus million wastewater treatment facility that takes the city light years ahead.

“This project does for gives FEMA and NEMA, we enjoyed working with you and we hope we don’t have to see you again because you’re so far out of the flood zone,” Portis said. “This is a real example of success that makes it work, making the rules work for success.”

“This is going to be the end of it, with this plant relocated out here,” said Plattsmouth Mayor R. Paul Lambert. “It’s a tremendous undertaking, but with the cooperation the federal government, state government and local citizens would be able to accomplish, we’re all well on our way.”

City Administrator Keith Hobson said this treatment system offers more dynamic processes and is more sustainable, removing chlorine from the end treatment, and some natural elements. Most significantly, it removes almost all of the process from the floodplain.

“You’ve got the whole town that all flows to the east down by the Missouri River,” Hobson said. “So you’re collecting all of the flow there and then we’re pumping it up to this site so we can get out of the floodplain area and get to a site where we can adequately treat it, removing nutrients and disinfecting it so we have a safe discharge to the stream right here.”

It will be late spring or early summer of 2025 by the time the project is complete. There will be some headaches, some construction issues between now and then, but the folks of Plattsmouth don’t seem to mind.

“Construction’s always uncomfortable at times, but you get a new street, new sidewalks and a great wastewater system,” Lambert said. “This plan is 60 to 80 years that it will be good for, and the development that will come, industrial and housing will come around it, and that’s our growth and that’s so important to keep our community alive and vibrant.”