A combination of melting snow and heavy rains have caused one of the most devastating floods in the Midwest, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and killing at least four people.
The historic flood has ruined countless homes, roads, stored grain and family farms, and killed massive numbers of cattle and other livestock.
As the people of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and surrounding areas have faced one of the greatest disasters of their lives, media coverage was practically silent for several days. Many residents have taken to reporting their own news, sharing their stories, photos and videos on social media in an effort to get the word out. They’ve shared videos of horses and cattle being rescued from the snow, mud and flooded fields, and heartbreaking accounts of dead livestock who didn’t make it.
Dawn Webster, from Blair, Nebraska, posted a report of horses stranded in a flooded barn, standing in water up to their bellies. The current outside was too dangerous to move them out of the barn.
Shane Johnson, who lives in Verdigre, Nebraska, shared a powerful account on his Facebook page on Sunday, revealing how serious the situation really is. Below is his story:
I know I will likely regret posting this, but I’m going to anyway because I’m fed up, and I didn’t have to see much on here to feel that way…
My hometown of Verdigre NE was one of the first communities to be hit by the flooding, pretty much starting on Tuesday into Wednesday, warmer temperatures bringing down deluges of rain and snow melt with ground still frozen so hard the water had nowhere else to go but downhill. Our little 8 foot wide by 2 foot deep creek (north branch of the Verdigris River) swelled to a size I have never seen before, 200 foot wide where the banks would allow and easily 10 foot deep.
We were still high enough the water could not reach, large sections of pasture fence gone and a creek engine and pump for irrigation swept away, but no structural loss and all livestock safe thankfully. Verdigre itself didn’t fair so well, with main street underwater for about two days, homes and businesses suffering significant water damage. Neighbors and friends are suffering even worse, especially those along the Niobrara River, after the Spencer Dam broke.
Folks in towns across the region were evacuated from their homes and businesses, with probably only a little hope something would be left upon their return. Farmers and ranchers had to get out before the flood surge reached them, turning their livestock loose in hopes they could find high ground on their own. Many ranchers likely drove off their property in tears, knowing full well they had cattle that would die horrible deaths from drowning, animals in their care that needed them the most now and could do nothing because they were out of reach.
It hit home particularly hard when news reached us of the brave farmer, James Wilke, in his tractor attempting to rescue a stranded driver on a bridge was killed after it collapsed under and swept him away. My wife Deanne knew him as a regular costumer at the coop in Columbus when she worked there for seven years, and in fact his in-laws were from the Verdigre area as well.
Our brothers and sisters in the western half of the state have it just as bad, roads and homes buried under 8-12 foot snow drifts, kids stranded at school because they couldn’t get home, motorists stuck on highways because the snow bombed so fast, livestock buried alive in ditches and gullies while seeking shelter from the horrible blizzard, and hundreds of baby calves lost and alone freezing to death in the terrible icy wind.
From what I’ve seen, the nation wide news is only NOW beginning to cover this (like five days late), so some folks are just discovering what has happened. And unfortunately I was dumb enough to start looking at some comments and reading some posts. While the VAST majority (like 97-99%) I’ve seen is sympathetic, caring, praying, and willing to offer assistance (all of which is so greatly appreciated), it’s the small show of ignorance and arrogance that unfortunately sticks out as the most memorable.
I’ve heard of natural disaster tragedies getting politized by the public, from the California wild fires to Hurricane Harvey to the more recent horrible tornadoes in the South. I was naïve enough to believe it was likely all talk and rumor but people surely wouldn’t behave that way, would they??? Turns out I was wrong. Vegans telling cattle ranchers they had it coming, armchair experts claiming our drainage systems were not good (sorry, it’s not OUR fault there is more mileage of rivers across Nebraska then any other state in the country), and everything from global warming to the President getting blamed for this awful situation.
ARE…YOU…KIDDING ME!!!???? The damage from all this will be in the BILLIONS of dollars!!! This will take YEARS of recovery, not months. Some people’s lives are likely ruined forever. And yet, some people are selfish enough and have nothing better to do then knock someone down when they haven’t even begun to get back up, who think it’s more important to find someone or something to blame, and like to play high and mighty by playing the “I told you so” game. For those few out there so inclined to that thinking, do mankind a favor: turn off your brain and shut your mouth, the world will be a better place without your contribution or so called “opinion.”
It is a real shame the news has not and likely will not do this full justice. Not because we want sympathy, not because we want billions to rebuild, and certainly not because we think we deserve anything from anyone. But I guarantee you Nebraska could show the rest of the country what it is to be a good American and above all a good person. My hometown of Verdigre is a prime example. Homes were opened up to those evacuated, local businesses provided water and other goods, the church fish fry gave meals to first responders, the thrift store will be giving profits back to the community, the sale barn asked for bale donations for local ranchers in need of feed and the yard was literally full of hay the next day, folks have gone out of their way to start up relief funds for those most in need. And that’s just the start…
Nebraskans have a quiet toughness and strength to them, but not in a boastful or bragging light. Nebraskans are willing to do the right thing, but not to get attention or pat themselves on the back. Nebraskans will do what we always have, we will survive and do what has to be done, without complaint, without reservation, without compensation. Because the secret to being a Nebraskan is simple…having a big heart.
Channel 8 News from Lincoln, NE shared a video from a ranch in Mirriman, Nebraska of a horse stuck in the snow, as his owner attempted to dig him out.
Click on the post below (or CLICK HERE) to see another video of a horse being dug out of the snow in Wyoming.
Below, a rancher in Fullerton, Nebraska, uses his tractor to dig a cow out of the mud:
— Ryan Koinzan (@rkoinzan) March 19, 2019