Cleaning, hygiene kits needed; NE governor surveys damage

David Burke

3/19/2019

Deployment began today for Great Plains Disaster Response volunteers, headed for Valley County in central Nebraska. Valley County Roads Superintendent Jay Meyer reported that more than 150 sites are damaged, ranging from minor to major damage. The Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, left the conference office in Topeka late Tuesday morning after a blessing from the staff.

Tapley said the area is in need of cleaning kits (formerly known as “flood buckets”) and hygiene kits, and those kits should only be delivered to the district offices in Nebraska. Warehouse space is needed to keep the kits, preferably in the Omaha, Norfolk and Wisner areas. If anyone knows of available space in those areas, contact the district superintendent’s office.

Waters receded enough on Highway 30 to show some of the damage caused by flooding in the area around Columbus, Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska State Patrol
Financial contributions are the most needed at this point. Make checks payable to your local United Methodist Church, for Great Plains Disaster Response #975. Checks -- made payable to Great Plains Conference #975 -- can also be sent directly to the Great Plains Conference, P.O. Box 4837, Topeka, KS 66604. A secure online giving portal is available at the Great Plains Conference website.

A volunteer signup form is now available online at greatplainsumc.org/great-plains-flood-relief.

If churches want to host early response training, contact administrative assistant Donna Ernest, 785-272-9111. There also will be basic “just time training” at the beginning of each day at each location.

 As of this morning, 75 cities and 65 of the state’s 93 counties are under emergency disaster declarations.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the flooding was the worst disaster in the history of the state.

“We have not had a disaster that has been this widespread in the state, I don’t think, ever,” Ricketts said Monday while visiting Wood River. “We’ve had disasters where we’ve had a greater loss of life. But as far as how many places have been touched by this, I don’t think there’s ever been a disaster this widespread in Nebraska.”

In a statement at midday Tuesday, Ricketts asked drivers not to travel to areas where roads are closed and not to cross flooded roads.

“It will be quite some time before infrastructure is back in place to prevent recurring flooding,” he wrote. “If flood waters have subsided in your community, make sure that you return only when local officials have given the all clear.”

Ricketts offered these numbers for assistance:
  • Nebraskans needing property cleanup can contact the Crisis Clean Up Hotline: 833-556-2476.
  • Farmers in need of hay, feed stuffs, fencing materials, volunteer help, equipment, etc. should call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 1-800-831-0550.
  • Businesses can call the U.S. Chamber’s Disaster Help Desk for Business at 1-888-692-4943.
  • NEMA has set up a hotline for general questions from the public.  The number is 402-817-1551.
  • For all other needs for assistance, call 211.
  • If you have an emergency, you should dial 911.
FEMA agents will be in Lincoln today for an expanded declaration. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit the state to survey the damage.
 
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at dburke@greatplainsumc.org.


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