Knicely Done: Rapid heartfelt response

Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 9:48 PM CDT
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The call to help flood victims went out from Omaha Rapid Response and volunteers are still responding.

"The highest water was over 10 feet," said ORR President Ken Gruber to volunteers who gathered at a staging point in Elkhorn on a Friday morning. He was referring to the devastating conditions at King Lake where Omaha Rapid Response was headed.

"If you see something unsafe, don't do it," advised Gruber. Some in the crowd were first time volunteers and others had worked with ORR at other disaster sites around the country.

"I met them in Houston when we were teaming up with 8 days of hope for Hurricane Harvey," said Stuart Donald who lives in a small southeast Iowa town. "This is so much closer to home I had to come and help."

One man trailered his tractor in to smooth the muddy roads in the King Lake community.

Others like Seth Stauffer took a day off from his job in Oakland, Nebraska and spent his day removing damaged drywall and other ruined items in several houses.

"I have not helped with disaster recovery before so I definitely wanted to help out," he said.

Tara Helms of Omaha wore an old jacket that she knew she could throw away at the end of the day. "It's heart wrenching to see people go through this," she said. "It's emotional."

80-year old Sandra Hammas brought a wealth of experience to King Lake. She served much of her life as a missionary in Latin America.

"I just love talking with people and explaining to them how good my God is," she said during a break from scraping mud off a driveway.

She and other were working at Jared Miller's home that sustained heavy damage during the flood. He was not aware of Omaha Rapid Response until a small army of workers showed up on his doorstep to help.

"They had most of this gutted out in five hours," he said. "I couldn't believe they worked that fast. They were like an army of ants running through, in and out and in and out, I mean you couldn't even keep track of who was going where."

"There's always hope, said Gruber. "A lot of the people want to give up, and then they see that somebody cares, It's not so much the work although we want to work, it's about relationship."

Omaha Rapid Response will move on to other communities in the weeks ahead and they welcome volunteers of all skill levels. For more information on the non profit:

Another great resource for areas that need help is SHARE Omaha. The local outreach reports that the number of people on it's website has doubled since the flood. For more information:

Knicely Done!