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Elderly Woman Found Dead in Her Flooded Basement Following Nebraska Storm

Fixing leaks in basement walls

Earlier this month, historic storms and flooding hit the Lincoln, NE metropolitan area.

But as the flooding subsided and the countless basement water leaks dried up, Fairbury residents were hit with grim news — the floods’ devastation claimed the life of one of their own.

According to the Kearney Hub, Betty McMullen, 86, was found dead in her basement on Friday, May 8. McMullen had gone missing that Wednesday when the storm first hit.

When authorities first searched her property Thursday, they found both her cars in the driveway and her basement completely submerged with water, but no sign of McMullen herself. By Friday, the floods had subsided enough for searchers to return to her home, which was when they found McMullen, who had apparently drowned in her basement.

McMullen had told neighbors that her home sat low enough along the Little Blue River that basement floods were commonplace for her; apparently, nothing could have prepared her for this historic flood.

The Little Blue River at Fairbury crested at almost 17.5 feet above its regular level during the storm; water had completely flooded McMullen’s basement and was even seeping up through the main level’s floors. That’s approximately 14 inches higher than the previous flood record in the area, which occurred on July 25, 1992.

The National Flood Insurance Program states that floods are the top disaster in the U.S., costing Americans more than $3 billion in damage annually. It’s rare for basement cracks and leaks to claim lives, but wet basements lead to water damage that can wreak havoc on a home, resulting in thousands of dollars in costs for repairing a cracked foundation and sealing foundation leaks.

The storm and flooding prompted evacuations throughout the Lincoln area, in DeWitt and portions of Lincoln, Fairbury, Steele City and Deshler. Sadly, for McMullen, there was nothing to be done.

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