Recovery Volunteers Needed
Residents of eastern Nebraska towns hit hard by tornadoes last Sunday are still cleaning up debris. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says more than 700 volunteers were in Beaver Crossing Saturday to help the town's 400 residents.
Officials encouraged the volunteers to stay home on Sunday because heavy equipment was being used to pick up piles of debris that have been gathered since the May 11th tornadoes.
Volunteers will be needed again Monday. Beaver Crossing will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss the damage caused by a tornado with winds of 136 mph. Approximately 227 homes were damaged in and around Beaver Crossing. Sixteen were destroyed and another 22 sustained major damage. Business and churches were also damaged. Tornadoes caused more than $20 million damage in several towns, but didn't cause any serious injuries.
Army National Guard soldiers from the 92nd Troop Command are in Beaver Crossing to assist.
At age 79, Margaret Trojan looked at the damage through eyes that have seen a lot and she’s still in disbelief about what happened to the home she shares with her husband. “I opened up the garage door first and I said oh. I screamed, ‘Dick come look.’ Well, all the insulation was hanging just like a Halloween thing.”
Most of the debris has been picked up for the Trojans, but it will take a long time to move past the memory of riding out the storm. “Yeah, I heard it. I heard my husband say oh, there goes the roof and it was a big crash, like it lifted it right off and then it went down.”
“This whole building got blown away and the tractor that was sitting in it was untouched. But the pickup that was sitting in front of the building, the building rolled over it and destroyed it. You never know.” He said dealing with the aftermath is a matter of perspective.
Emergency managers said Friday the focus was on clearing debris from the roads to make room for utility workers to get in and restore electricity. “The homeowner needs to work with an electrician," said Mike Wight with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. "An electrician will talk to the power company and say this house is ready to go and they will turn the power on.”
Tanner Rosenbaum saw "trash laying everywhere, houses damaged, cars damaged, RVs flipped over, garages damaged, shelters damaged. Everything is torn to pieces."
Alan Radke of the American Red Cross responded to Beaver Crossing after hearing about the damage on his way back from another storm in the south. “There really isn't thing that I know of, just getting out of yourself, getting out and helping."
Radke is volunteer veteran and one thing he gleans from responding to so many storms is that oftentimes survivors and residents just need the simplest of comforts and an ear to listen. "You'll be surprised how many people that might say go on by, we don't need anything. But if you get out of the truck and walk up to them and start talking to them, they need to talk."
A LinkedIn group from Omaha was also lending a hand. "Part of LinkedIn's culture is to support the community, it's what this company was built on," said Karen Ernst. The group made a surprise visit dropping off more than $200 in gift cards and raising another $100 to go toward relief for families. "We decided to make the drive down here because our fellow Nebraskans need our help. We just decided to drive down here and donate our gift cards to Beaver Crossing."
Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call Gary Peterson with Seward County Emergency Management at 402-643-4722.