Eighteen semis and trailers were loaded with supplies of hay, straw, feed, fencing supplies and animal care kits to take to needy ranchers in Nebraska.
Eighteen semis and trailers were loaded with supplies of hay, straw, feed, fencing supplies and animal care kits to take to needy ranchers in Nebraska.

Progress Staff Writer

On April 12, 34 people loaded into 18 vehicles and headed out west. No, this wasn’t a big convoy for Spring Break. They were headed out to help farmers in Nebraska.

In March, record flooding hit parts of Nebraska and Iowa causing horrendous damage to farms, businesses and residences.

A dam failed on the Niobrara River in Nebraska that sent huge chunks of ice into neighboring towns and fields.

Since many of these areas are rural and farming communities, the damage is devastating. Livestock has been swept away by the flood waters, fields have been flooded, farm equipment lies crumpled in heaps of metal.

The flooding was caused by an unusual set of conditions. In addition to heavy rains, the temperature was rather warm causing 5-13” of snow to melt, which added an extra 1-3” to the rain total. The ground was still frozen and unable to absorb some of the water. The flooded rivers had thick ice covering them still and due to the forceful floodwaters, the ice broke up and created ice jams that blocked the flow of water and caused additional flooding.

Local residents in Paulding and Van Wert counties saw the need and decided to step up and help.

Various organizations in the counties including OSU Extension in Paulding and Van Wert, FFA, Paulding County Area Foundation, Farm Bureau and more, stepped up to organize the collection of supplies.

Together the groups gathered enough supplies to fill 18 semis and trailers. Those supplies collected included hay, straw, fodder bales, bagged calf and horse feed, milk replacer, fencing supplies and barbed wire.

FFA groups put together kits with animal care supplies that were also taken.

The Plummer family with Logisticize LTD left a few days later with a semi full of minerals.

The convoy left from Middle Point and made it to Adair, Iowa, the first day. The following day one truck split off to drop off supplies in Omaha while the rest of the group headed to Verdigre, Nebraska.

The mileage for the trip ended up in the 1,700 mile range and the group did have to handle a few breakdowns while on the road.

That part of the midwest features rolling hills, although beautiful to look at, they can be hard on trucks carrying heavy loads.

While dropping off supplies, the group was able to meet with local ranchers and see the extent of the devastation.

“I don’t know how to describe the damage. Thousands of acres of hay and pasture fields are just destroyed. Huge ice chunks were still everywhere,” said group leader, Tony Miller.

Verdigre was chosen as the area to deliver the supplies to because of the need. They were one of the hardest hit areas and were receiving the least amount of supplies. The town was not too far from the dam that failed and most of the ice glaciers hit that area.

Miller has been in daily contact with one of the ranchers they met while in Nebraska. Planning has started for another trip out there later in the summer.

This trip will be focused mostly on labor and helping the ranchers rebuild or work the fields.

Some supplies will be taken, but not as many as the last trip.

CNN reports that most farmers will not be able to recover from this damage. Between the loss of livestock, buildings, and fields that will likely not get planted this year; the loss is just too much.

Miller echoed the same concerns “Most of these towns won’t be able to rebuild. Some of the friends we made out there said these small towns will become ghost towns over the next few years.”

Help is still needed in the area and you still have time to help. On Facebook you can follow the ongoing effort in our area by checking out the Van Wert to Nebraska page. You can also contact the Farm Bureau in Paulding or Van Wert.