Notwithstanding the state’s name, which translates to “flat water” in archaic Otoe, or the facts that Nebraska has more miles of rivers and a larger quantity of groundwater than any other state, that the apocalypse should arrive in our arid Great Plains state via water, not fire, struck me as deeply implausible. Nonetheless, water has made Nebraska what it is. The frozen, prehistoric water of glaciers transformed the region’s geology in the Ice Age; the waters of the state’s rivers, the Missouri, the Platte, the Niobrara, shaped the state’s settlement patterns; the subterranean water of the giant, endangered Ogallala Aquifer drives the state’s land use policies and thus its politics; and now, river water has reshaped Nebraska once again.
Nebraska’s waters have had their shaping influence on me too. I grew up, if not quite on the banks of the Big Blue River, at least in close psychic proximity to it. In the summer its waters trickled through my thoughts.
I’m very pleased to have an essay out on the 2019 Nebraska floods at Big Muddy.