Volunteer Spirit: Local farmers pitch in to help devastated Nebraskans

Eric Phillips, with the Franklin County Conservation District, wraps hay in preparation for a relief effort shipment to aid farmers in Nebraska. (Photo submitted)

While farmers are known for never being able to rely on the weather, they do tend to depend on one another.

Doing their part to help farmers in need, the Franklin County and Owen County Cooperative Extension Service offices have banded together with several community members to volunteer their time and supplies to provide relief for farmers in Nance County, Nebraska, the epicenter of recent flooding.

“Several local businesses are involved as well as FFA, 4-H and churches,” said Keenan Bishop, Franklin County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, who along with Owen County Extension Agent Kendal Bowman, is helping to lead the charge.

“A farmer in Owen County asked Bowman how she could donate hay to Nebraska farmers affected by flooding and it snowballed from there,” Bishop said.

Located in the heart of Nebraska, both Beaver River and Cedar Creek converge to feed into the larger Loup River in Nance County, which sustained copious amounts of damage.

According to early estimates from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the washed-out roads, toppled bridges — including 13 that are damaged beyond repair — and infrastructure problems total a whopping $231 million in Nance County alone — or $65,000 for each of the county’s 3,569 residents. Statewide, damages are expected to eclipse more than half a billion dollars.

Farmers Helping Farmers, which began picking up local donations on Monday, will continue scheduling donation times through Thursday.

Everyone is pitching in. Local company Tierney Rentals donated the warehouse, forklift and front-end loader. The Franklin County Conservation District is lending its hay wrapper for protection in transit, and other businesses have volunteered supplies.

“On Thursday evening, a crew of Peaks Mill Church members will help 4-H sort, inventory and palletize for load out on Friday or Monday,” Bishop said, adding that extension offices across the state are running big and little loads to the Frankfort collection point.

Among the items needed are round or square pre-inspected inside-stored hay; 4 feet by 7½ feet wood line posts; steel posts; electric fence posts; 14½-gauge barbed wire; high tensile wire; electric insulators (t-post); fence staples; range cubes and bags; mineral bags and blocks; gloves; fence pliers; and hand-held post drivers.

Thus far, the group has filled one semi-truck full of fencing and cleaning supplies and water and about eight semis or about 250 rolls of hay. Bishop said they have a little bit of everything but are worried they’ll run out of semi-trucks before it all gets shipped.

“The truckers are donating their time and trucks, so maybe fuel cards would help them out some,” he added. “They’ve made a bunch of runs already.”

Like the truckers, farmers are a kindred bunch and while Frankfort has never experienced flooding to the magnitude of Nance County, residents can relate to the devastation that area faces.

“Folks know what it is like and how much help it is to receive donations in times of need,” Bishop said. “We received almost a full semi load from Morgan County. They were hit by a tornado a few years ago and wanted to pay it forward.”

No donations or deliveries can be accepted at the extension office. To schedule a donation pickup, contact Bishop at 502-695-9035 or at kbishop@uky.edu.

Recommended for you

Load comments

Thank you for Reading!

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading.Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading.