LEXINGTON — Dawson County Flood Assistance, “One Stop,” hadn’t been opened for an hour and already hundreds of people had been through.
The parking lot was full, cars circled the building, inside there was a line of people with an hour wait. All were waiting for help from the “One Stop,” at the Dawson County Annex Building on Thursday, July 18.
Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska and staff members from local organizations and non-profit agencies were on hand to answer questions, help flood victims fill out the proper paperwork and explain what types of assistance were available to those who had been affected by the July 8-9 flooding.
Organizations such as Department of Health and Human Services, Two Rivers Public Health Department, Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Southern Baptist Church, Micah’s House, etc. were all on hand to help people, as well as numerous volunteers.
The amount of people who came through the doors seeking assistance in the first hour seemed to have surprised everyone working. Dawson County Emergency Manager Brian Woldt commented by 11 a.m. the number of people already seeking assistance was more than anticipated.
United Way Executive Director Rhonda Guthard said, “Hundreds of people,” had been through.
The Red Cross was handing out around 400 clean up kits for free to those who needed it. Volunteer Brian Stephens from Grand Island said the initial push of people in the morning at Lexington was more than what he had seen in Kearney the day before. Stephens expected the numbers to keep up throughout the day.
Outside of the Annex Building Tyson and Black Hills Energy were also handing out relief items to families.
Black Hills Community Affairs Manager Melissa Garcia said they were handing out 100 box fans on a first come first served basis. She said as Black Hills figured out how to get involved, they found one of the biggest needs was for fans, many said they were still struggling to dry out their basements.
Garcia said as a natural gas company, Black Hills serves a large amount of communities throughout Nebraska. “These are not just our customers, these are our friends and neighbors who were hurt,” she said.
Walmart was also working with Black Hills and offered a sandwich meal and cold water to people as they waited for assistance.
“We consider ourselves a community partner, events like these are tragic and we want to contribute in ways which are meaningful,” said Garcia, “We are community coming to help a community.”
By 1 p.m., Black Hills Energy had donated every single one of their 100 fans.
Tyson was on hand with a refrigerated trailer and 40,000 pounds of meat, they were handing out one box per family.
Tyson Plant Manager Dave Roemmich said Tyson has their own disaster relief and help out their communities which are in need. There were around 10 to 15 Tyson employees volunteering their time to help hand out boxes of food to families, he said.
“A lot of people lost food,” Roemmich said about the flooding, “It’s a small thing we can do for them, to help people start over.”
Roemmich said there were many Tyson employees who were personally affected by the flooding, many of them make their homes on the south side of town, where the flooding was the worst.
“We are eager to jump in and help Lexington,” he said. When Lexington location called Tyson corporate headquarters about providing relief in the community, Roemmich said the only thing corporate asked was, “What do you need?”
For those who still need access to food, there are several food pantries and drop off locations. Locations in Lexington include Community Action/Food Pantry, 931 W. 7th St., Parkview Baptist Church, 1105 Park St., St. Ann’s Parish Center Food Pantry, 1003 Taft St. and Micah’s Blessing Boxes, 810 S. Washington, 701 N. Washington St., 1206 N. Erie St., 87 Cypress Ln.
In Cozad, there is the Cozad Food Pantry on 105 E. Highway 30 and in Gothenburg at the American Lutheran Church, 1512 Ave. G.