The flood began the night of June 4. By daylight, more than 7 inches of rain had pounded Niobrara County and the town of Lusk. The water surged through stream and creek beds running through the gently rolling hills that had not seen water for years.
Debris overwhelmed culverts, bridges and viaducts. Highways, roads and train tracks became dams that forced the water into housing areas. Twenty-five homes were destroyed, 25 homes sustained significant damage and 18 homes received minor damage, a whopping 20 percent of all homes in the county.
Adventist Community Services Disaster Relief headed to Lusk to provide relief to the affected communities. They opened a Community Collection Center for donations and a Distribution Center that provides emergency food, clothing, tools, cleaning supplies, boots, gloves and other necessary supplies.
Interaction with the victims who come in for help is generally heartwarming. One young woman who was impacted by the flooding, read the logo on my T-shirt, frowned and asked, “Adventist?” “Yes, “ I responded. I am the director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church humanitarian work in Colorado, Wyoming and a portion of New Mexico.”
“ Oh, my grandfather was an Adventist evangelist in Denver. I still have the Bible with my name written in gold from a meeting. I brought 10 guests to the meeting and the Bible was my prize.”
Another woman, looking exhausted, asked for a shovel. The AmeriCorps bulk supplies team member provided the shovel and asked what else she needed. “A fan,” she responded. “The engineer said to cut holes in the floors of each room above the basement so air could circulate.”
I invited her to come to the Masonic Lodge where I could give her a gift card to purchase a fan. When she arrived, I realized she also needed bleach, cleaning products, gloves, paper towels, toilet paper and a N-95 mask.
As the AmeriCorps team gathered the items, tears filled her eyes. “I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t giving me these items. The engineers are coming back on Monday to inspect my house again. I don’t know if they can save it.”
Names and stories change, but the need is always there. It could be in Lusk or in another city. It could be your neighborhood or your family. Adventist Community Services will be there to provide support and relief. [Cathy Kissner]
You can support the ongoing recovery by donating through your local church.