Food Bank for the Heartland prepares for spring flooding

Omaha, Neb. (WOWT) The need is still there nearly a year later; hard-hit flood victims looking for a little extra help to put food on the table. And while the Food Bank for the Heartland works to fill the void, they’re also getting ready to do it all over again this spring.

Hundreds of thousands of meals have gone out their doors to help out victims of last year's flooding.

“It was actually the biggest scale disaster we've ever seen here at the food bank,” said Kelly Ptacek, Vice President of External Affairs, Food Bank for the Heartland. “We've provided well over 612,000 meals for disaster recovery."

And that number continues to rise.

“There are a lot of families still trying to return to their homes that's going to take several more months,” said Ptacek.

Mobile food pantries like one being set up in Council Bluffs Monday, get kicked into another gear in response to a disaster.

“That means we have a truck that goes into a community that's been significantly impacted by a disaster and making sure that individuals in that community have access to food,” said Ptacek.

The Food Bank currently has mobile pantries going out to Valley and Schuyler in direct response to last year's flooding. It’s ongoing need the Together Food Pantry in Omaha is also seeing.

"Huge increases in people coming to see us from 16 counties in Iowa and Nebraska . . . you can see spikes in traffic where flooding has effected people the most,” said Mike Hornecek, CEO, Together Inc.

He says the flooding impact is one of the factors that contributed to their busiest year to date.

“2019, unfortunately, was a record year for us."

And while help continues for victims of last year's flooding, attention is also turning to what may come.

“We anticipate that there may be some need for our services again this spring and so we are preparing for that,” said Patcek.

Preparation includes everything from coordinating with other relief organizations to making sure enough supplies are set aside.

“So that first starts with things like having bottled water to distribute, handheld snacks, those kinds of things people need immediately when an emergency first hits,” said Patcek.

It’s an emergency, they're hoping doesn't come to fruition.

To volunteer time, or make a donation to the Food Bank for the Heartland visit their website.