MACY, Nebraska | The federal government on Wednesday raised its share of disaster assistance for the Omaha Tribe's recovery from the historic 2011 Missouri River flooding from 75 percent to 90 percent.
President Barack Obama issued the additional disaster assistance Tuesday for Omaha Tribe projects related to flooding between May 24 and Aug. 1, 2011, according to a news release issued by the White House on Wednesday.
Under Obama's major disaster declaration issued to the state of Nebraska on Aug. 12, 2011, funding was made available for 75 percent of total eligible costs. The new change has increased the funding to 90 percent for parts of the Omaha Reservation affected by the flood.
"I am pleased that the Obama administration recognized the unique situation that the Omaha Tribe has," said Vernon Miller, chairman of the Omaha Tribal Council. "We went through a plethora of appeals to get to the point we're at today."
Miller said the change will mean an additional $2.4 million to help pay the roughly $12 million rebuilding costs.
The Omaha Tribe, based in Macy, Nebraska, has land on both sides of the Missouri River, in Thurston County, Nebraska and Monona County, Iowa.
During the historic floods of 2011, melting of the unusually high Rocky Mountain snow pack in late spring, combined with abnormally heavy rainfall in May and June throughout Montana and the Dakotas forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release record amounts of water from upriver dams.
The deluge of water led to summer-long flooding along the Missouri in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. The floodwaters severely damaged the Omaha Tribe's former CasinOmaha near Onawa, Iowa.
With federal emergency aid, the casino was rebuilt, reopening as Blackbird Bend Casino in January 2013.
Miller said when the Omaha Tribe's casino reopened, 180 jobs were created, lowering the tribe's unemployment rate from 81 percent to 69 percent.
Susan Hendrick, a press secretary for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement Wednesday that the aid increase "is not time limited and applies to all public assistance projects resulting from those disasters."
That means the Omaha Tribe will pay 10 percent on past flood-related projects such as Blackbird Bend Casino. Miller said that could result in a refund from the federal government. He added the funds would be reinvested in the tribe.
Miller said the 2011 flooding was disastrous for the tribe, which historically has struggled with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
"The morale was down, and it happened during the summer so the kids didn't have anywhere to go," Miller said.
Miller said the 2011 flooding also destroyed 11 homes.
"It really impacted us because we had a housing shortage," he said. "We had to do some creative restructuring. It really impacted us from a fiscal standpoint."
Miller said the homes have since been rebuilt, and the remaining displaced families will have homes later this month.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.