After record snowfall and rain storms, the midwest is experiencing historic flooding throughout Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
Smaller rivers throughout the midwest have flooded and fed into the Missouri River which is flooded as well. According to The New York Times, this has led Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin all to declare a national state of emergency.
According to KSNB Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Nebraska News, the American Red Cross is operating 22 shelters across Nebraska with a population of more than 660 people. Approximately 300 people have been rescued along with roughly 30 pets.
According to CNN, as of March 19, four people had been killed in Nebraska and Iowa and two others were still missing.
Junior Mackenzie Daffer from Percival, Iowa, said her family was forced to leave their home due to the flooding and is now staying with family friends.
“Our house is currently surrounded by water, but thankfully, no water is in it,” Daffer said. “It is too close for comfort though. Our horses are all taken care of, and we’re very thankful we had time to get our valuables and meaningful things out.”
According to Fox 4 Kansas City, Missouri, as of March 19, the Missouri State Highway Patrol had closed I-29 at mile marker 56, which is only four miles north of St. Joseph, Missouri.
According to Google Public Alerts, the flooding stage for St. Joseph, Missouri, is 17 feet and the Missouri River is expected to rise to nearly 28.9 feet by March 21 and fall back into normal range by March 27.
Senior Maddison Haynes, from La Vista, Nebraska, said while her house is in a safe area, the towns around her are flooding.
“You can constantly hear the helicopters flying in to rescue people,” Haynes said. “My best friend's house in Pacific Junction (Iowa) has been completely destroyed and a lot of people close to me have been displaced and lost everything.”
Junior Erin Cejka from Gretna, Nebraska, said her town is not affected by the flooding but has had friends and family members who were directly impacted.
“My mother works in Weeping Water (Nebraska), and she can not get to work now,” Cejka said. “I also have friends who have been evacuated from their homes in Elkhorn (Nebraska) and Ashland (Nebraska).”
Haynes said she and her family are doing what they can to help those who have been affected by the flooding.
“My mom has opened up our house to friends who have nowhere else to go,” Haynes said. “I plan to spend spring break helping those displaced in Fremont (Nebraska), a town that is currently an island due to the flooding.”
Daffer said she is not only a victim of the flood but a helper, aiding others who have also been affected.
“I moved my family out Friday (March 15) morning and afternoon, and then Friday night, I was at another community down the river sandbagging, helping them,” Daffer said. “I’ve been here helping this other community from Friday night, and I am there right now helping (March 18). I feel like I understand their pain, and I want to use my able body to help. I want more to help; it is needed so much.”
Haynes said her hometown has leaped into action to help the flood victims around them.
“Companies have opened up space to collect donations or donated themselves,” Haynes said. “It’s been amazing to see those around me not directly affected by flooding jump into action so selflessly to help those around them. If people can’t donate items, they’re donating time and manual labor to help.”
Cejka said she and her friends from Nebraska have created an information network to keep each other up-to-date with the ongoing flooding.
“I have many Nebraska friends who have worked together to keep each other updated on what roads are closed, which areas have been evacuated, and the possible ways we can get home for break,” Cejka said.
Daffer said members of the community have jumped into action to help her and her family.
“Some of my old coaches in Sidney (Iowa) came with trucks and trailers and got my family out ASAP Friday,” Daffer said. “Some of my mom’s coworkers donated money to our family; I haven’t had to make or pay for a meal since Thursday last week. The support keeps pouring out just when you think it’s getting tougher. I am very thankful for that.”
Daffer said while she has some people to support her at Northwest, most do not realize how bad the flooding really is.
Northwest is waiving spring break housing fees for students whose house and travel routes are affected by flooding.
“It feels like a different world,” Daffer said. “I’ve had people get a hold of me asking me how I’m doing and how my family is.
Haynes said the idea of Northwest as a family has really shone through during this tragedy.
“There are so many people at Northwest who have reached out to make sure my family and house is OK,” Haynes said. “I’ve been concerned about even being able to get back home with all the road closures, and my friend immediately said if I need a place to go I can come to her house.”
Haynes said she wants anyone affected to know that their fellow Bearcats are here for them.
“We feel for you. Reach out to your friends for help,” Haynes said. “At the end of the day, things are just things and can be replaced, but always hold your loved ones close and be thankful they are safe.”
Daffer said she encourages others being affected by the flooding to focus on the positives to help get them through the tragedy.
“I would say that I understand how they are feeling, and it’s OK to cry, but as soon as you let it out, you got to be strong for those around you,” Daffer said. “If everyone helps everyone, the job will get done. Help others and remember that it’s all materialistic things, just be thankful that you and your family is OK.”
Haynes said she encourages everyone to be thinking of their fellow students as they deal with this hardship.
“This is right before spring break, and a lot of people won’t have homes to go back to during this time,” Haynes said. “Families have lost their whole livelihoods. I think this is a time to pull together as a community and help those affected by the floods.”
Daffer said everyone needs to be aware of what is currently going on and lend a hand when they can.
“I think people should know that this really is a disaster and that people really need help,” Daffer said. “It’s not just a slight inconvenience that you hear about and then go on with your day. People's lives are at stake. People are prideful and feeling vulnerable and aren’t thinking about actually asking for help. Just be a light in these people's lives and help, I promise you they won’t say no.”