LINCOLN, NEB. – It is the one-year anniversary (March 13-14) of one of the most disastrous storms to ravage the state in recent history, causing unprecedented flooding for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Nebraska Farm Bureau was there to help, creating the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund and collecting $3.4 million to help restore health and safety to individuals and livestock on farms and ranches and in rural communities. One hundred percent of the donations have been distributed, with zero administrative fees charged.
“My calves were surrounded by water, standing there bawling for help. I felt helpless. But Farm Bureau got us hay for two and a half months. They lined up hay, feed, fencing supplies, veterinary supplies to help my sick calves. It was unbelievable what they did for us! I can’t say enough thanks to Farm Bureau for that,” said Tom Geisler who farms with his wife Fran outside of Hooper.
In Spencer, ice chunks 10 to 12 feet high, some the size of cars, took out the Spencer Dam and caused catastrophic damage to the Ruzicka farm, where Willard and his son Anthony, raise cattle near Verdigre. It also took out the water lines in Boyd County where half to two-thirds of county residents were served by the Boyd County Rural Water District. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund helped Ruzicka’s to rebuild, brought water to residents of Spencer and Verdigre, and helped restore the water lines in Boyd County. These are some of the people and places that were able to receive help from the money collected by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund.
“Our regional managers worked side-by-side with Nebraska farmers and ranchers and rural communities to help aid those affected by the challenging weather season. The generosity of people who wanted to help financially or just volunteer their time for clean-up was overwhelming. More than 6,000 individuals and companies donated to the fund. Volunteers have given countless hours of time transporting hay, feed, and veterinary supplies for Nebraska farmers and ranchers who had nowhere else to turn. While we hope this fund will not be needed in the future, we are glad to have a mechanism in place at Nebraska Farm Bureau to provide help to farmers and ranchers when it is needed the most. We stand ready and thank those who supported the flood relief efforts. You truly made a difference for so many individuals,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau, president.
The fund was established at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the ability to manage donations and relief distributions. The number of requests coming into the Disaster Relief Fund were overwhelming.
“We received a total of $35 million in unmet need requests to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund. Private gifts were critical to meeting the needs of those affected by the storms, especially the necessities needed immediately following the storms. We sent out our final disaster checks early this month to close the fund. We’re pleased to have worked with so many generous people and organizations in Nebraska and across the county who donated to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.
Needs reported from relief applicants included debris removal; repair of personal property, including homes; fencing and feed for livestock; veterinary expenses; farm equipment and increased transportation costs due destruction of roads and bridges.
For Tom and Fran Geisler, Nebraska Farm Bureau helped them get through this difficult time.
“I don’t know if Tom would have made it through without Farm Bureau. They were right there on our doorstep after this disaster. They just came through for us,” Fran Geisler said.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.