Beaver Crossing, NE -
Many residents attest that the saying in Beaver Crossing has always been that the village was safe from tornadoes because of its position in a valley. That all changed Sunday when one tore through town.
Days later, the American Red Cross is one of dozens of agencies helping Beaver Crossing sort through the damage. They have disaster response crews on scene, and caseworkers are connecting residents with resources.
“The reality is kind of starting to settle in,” said Liz Dorland, communications manager for the American Red Cross Nebraska/Southwest Iowa. “That’s a hard thing to deal with, so in addition to providing the immediate tangible needs, we are also here to let people know that there are mental health workers that are here.”
Disaster response officials say it’s been a stressful few days for the town of 400 and the nearly 1,700 volunteers who have come to help.
Resident Lynelle Nissen says it’s tough, but they’re thankful no one was killed.
“I think things are getting better now – right away when we didn’t know what were we going to do, we didn’t know what kind of help we were going to get, we were all like how are we going to clean this up – where do we start. That’s what a lot of people said was 'where do you start?'” said Nissen.
As clean up continues, officials say they’re moving into the phase where they’ll need heavy equipment to start picking up where volunteers have taken them so far.
“Getting the right mix of volunteers, which we are delighted to have, and the larger equipment which we’re starting to see a bit more of the need for as well,” said Mike Wight, a public information officer for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
Recovery will take weeks, if not months, but agencies say they’ll be right there.
“We’re all trying to accomplish the same goal, we’re all trying to help the residents of Beaver Crossing get back on their feet,” said Dorland.
It’s a fluid process and emergency officials are coordinating their needs for volunteer help and for supply donations.
As of Wednesday, they were asking people to check in at the National Guard checkpoints on the edges of town, then go downtown and get credentials at the fire hall.
Wight says volunteers should wear good shoes for being around debris, and if possible bring rakes or silage forks. Basic hand tools or power tools are optional.
To find out more about supply donations, contact emergency management officials or community leaders.