After a winter of record snowfall over much of the region, a strong early-March storm brought blizzard-like conditions to western Nebraska and significant rainfall to already saturated eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. What resulted were historic floods in the Missouri River watershed. Nebraska experienced significant infrastructure damage, including collapsed dams, numerous damaged or destroyed highway bridges, and compromised public water sources. Agricultural and private property damage, which is still being recovered and evaluated, is expected to exceed $900 million. Throughout the Diocese of Nebraska, the 52 congregations largely avoided serious flooding, however Episcopalians across the state were evacuated and experienced damage to homes, businesses and farms.
As the extent of the damage became clearer, countless offers for prayer and financial assistance from across the country were offered.
In response to this show of support, The Right Rev. J. Scott Barker, Bishop of Nebraska expressed gratitude, “The outpouring of support we’re seeing is a beautiful reminder of our common humanity and the loving care of an incarnate and present God who never abandons us, least of all in times of trouble.”
Like many other community organizations, Episcopal Churches became beacons of relief and support. In Fremont, Nebraska, which was completely cut off from outside access for days due to significant flooding and highway damage, St. James’ Episcopal Church packed tote bags with three days of toiletries and supplies to take to local shelters housing those evacuated from their homes. The Rev. Sarah Miller, Priest-in-Charge, says, “In the face of loss and uncertainty, the way that St. James’ and the entire Fremont community have rallied to help those in need has been an experience of God’s grace.”
To streamline financial giving, the Diocese of Nebraska established a Flood Relief and Support Fund and will work with local authorities, the American Red Cross and Episcopal Relief and Development in the allocation of funds. Bishop Barker says, “All the money we collect in relief efforts is intended to restore our communities to health and well-being for the long term.”
Canon to the Ordinary, The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Easton said, “While the extent of the recovery is not entirely known yet and we are still prone to additional floods as we deal with a changing climate in the Midwest; Nebraskans are a resilient people – we will recover and adapt. We give thanks for our beautiful state, our first responders and volunteers, and above all – we express much gratitude for all the prayers we have received from across the country in this time of need.”
To give a financial donation to the Diocese of Nebraska’s Flood Relief and Support Fund, click here.