KEARNEY — In March 2019, Kearney Area Community Foundation President and CEO Judi Sickler was on vacation with her family when her cellphone began pinging constantly. Her inbox was full of stories about major flooding in Nebraska, including the Kearney area.
The KACF staff quickly activated the Disaster Relief Fund and went on social and traditional media to encourage donors to support their neighbors in need.
More than $890,000 was raised to help Kearney area flood victims. Of that, the DRF contributed $479,409.65. The Kearney Area Disaster Recovery Group raised $309,000, and the United Way of the Kearney Area contributed $102,014.65.
Now two years after the first 2019 flood, the recovery group is wrapping up the last of its projects. A grant that helped fund the recovery group ran through Dec. 31, 2020.
When Sickler returned to Kearney in March 2019, she and other nonprofits created a One-Stop-Shop in Gibbon to help connect local flood victims with resources. Disaster relief staff members worked directly with flood victims, listening to their stories and connecting them to organizations that could assist them.
In July, the group was wrapping up its work when a second flood occurred, this time affecting south Kearney and other communities across Buffalo County. Unfortunately, some households were hit a second time.
Because of the widespread destruction, the nonprofit leaders launched the Kearney Area Disaster Recovery Group.
KADRG hired a full-time coordinator and two part-time advocates, who worked directly with flood victims.
Through its efforts:
- 648 households were connected with organizations such as the Gibbon Area Relief Fund, FEMA, SBA, Orphan Grain Train, the Red Cross and Region III.
- 285 households received grants to help with out-of-pocket recovery costs.
- 117 households received help with building materials and cleanup supplies/services.
- 51 families/individuals were assisted with the expense of painters, drywallers, carpet installers, electricians and other contractors.
- 39 were assisted with rent and utility bills.
- 24 furnaces were replaced or repaired.
Many other types of assistance were given, including beds and water heaters.