Family affected by flood ready to start a new chapter

In March 2019, Nikki and her three boys were living in Paradise Lakes when water from the nearby Missouri River flooded the Bellevue park, damaging all 195 mobile homes. Residents were told the community would not be impacted as it was built to withstand flooding, but at 10 a.m. on a day when Nikki happened to be off from work, a police officer knocked on her door and told her to grab as much as she could and evacuate the area.

“It was the worst thing we could have gone through,” she said. “It was awful seeing what my kids lost. To this day, they say they wish they had the toys and sentimental items we lost in the flood.”

Nikki had 12 hours to pack and figure out where to stay. She said it seemed like the world was ending.

“I remember sitting in my car thinking, ‘what am I supposed to do?’” she said. “There was so much stuff. My friend told me, ‘pack what means the most to you.’”

Her family spent the next couple of nights at her ex-husband’s house and a hotel. Then, she was offered to stay at an Airbnb for several weeks, free of charge.

“Every night after work, I’d search desperately for a place to live,” she said.

When Nikki finally found an apartment, she began dealing with maintenance issues. Unfortunately, the leaking pipes caused her apartment to flood, forcing them to move again.

“It was like we were reliving the nightmare over and over again,” she said.

Individuals and families affected by the floods were advised to apply to Habitat Omaha’s Homeownership Program. On March 24, our staff called Nikki to let her know she had been selected to purchase a house just outside of Bellevue near Sarpy County.

“I wanted to reach out today and tell you all how happy we are! We are so excited and relieved! I was so happy yesterday afternoon I could hardly contain myself. When I told my boys, the looks on their faces were priceless! Thank you so much! I can’t wait for this next journey of our lives,” she wrote in an email to Habitat Omaha.

Their newly built three-bedroom home will be completed in July. Every week, their family drives by the house to see its progress. It’s near the apartment they currently rent, so her children won’t have to transfer schools.

“It’s happening so fast,” Nikki said. “It will be great for our family. We are happy to get to live in our own house.”

Her family is looking forward to going on walks and bike rides around the neighborhood.

“Home means permanency, a place to call our own,” she said. “We feel very grateful to be a part of Habitat’s program. I find myself telling everybody about it all the time.”