KEARNEY — When Nebraska Farm Bureau launched a fund-raising campaign after historic mid-March flooding devastated farms, ranches and infrastructure across the state, its president wasn’t sure enough money could be raised to a make a difference.
Steve Nelson of Axtell said he soon learned there was no reason to doubt the generosity of Nebraskans and people far beyond its borders.
Donations of more than $3.4 million were made by more than 6,000 donors from all 50 states. Donors included military service personnel based in nine countries.
“I’ve never seen the Farm Bureau family come closer together or be stronger than it’s been in 2019,” Nelson said Monday during his president’s address at the organization’s annual convention in Kearney.
“Life is about getting up, persevering and pushing forward,” he added. “ … Our members and organization was there to help people do just that.”
Farm Bureau members and leaders worked with state and federal emergency relief agencies, helped get livestock feed and other supplies brought to Nebraska by donors from other states into the hands of ag producers in need, and helped feed displaced families and relief volunteers.
“I was able to meet many of those whose lives were turned upside down in a matter of minutes,” Nelson said, which allowed him to gather first-person stories about flood victims and people who came to help them.
He shared those stories in more than 100 media interviews last spring.
Nelson said a goal of those interviews and videos taken by Farm Bureau staff at damaged areas was to inform people from outside Nebraska about the size and historic nature of the disaster.
He cautioned that recovery is not finished for many people, so it’s important to engage those who are struggling or refer them to someone who can help.
“Your compassion and generosity might change someone’s life and it might just save it,” Nelson said.
“I hope and pray that 2020 will be better for all of us,” he added.