In March 2019, melting snow and heavy rainfall caused several rivers across Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota to flood, displacing thousands of families and causing more than $3 billion in damages to homes, businesses, crops, livestock and infrastructure.
When nature tested us, our neighbors responded.
In true Midwestern fashion, countless individuals, families and businesses, stepped up to help in any way they could. Initial efforts focused on bringing families and livestock to safety and ensuring basic needs such as food, water, clothing and shelter were met. As the flood waters began to recede, planning and raising funds for the long-term recovery and rebuilding effort became the top priority.
To help support the rebuilding efforts, First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) and the Nebraska Community Foundation established the Rebuild the Heartland Community Fund (the fund). Because of the kindness and generosity of donors from across the Midwest and the country, the fund raised more than $837,000!
The rebuilding begins.
Rebuilding the communities affected by the flooding is no easy feat and is expected to take up to ten years to accomplish. However, donations are already hard at work helping families repair and rebuild their homes while also reestablishing normalcy in their lives.
Best practices for disaster relief programs require a significant period of waiting and patience in order to fully understand a community’s needs and to appropriately coordinate federal and state resources that may be available. For this reason, the fund began distributing grants in December 2019. One hundred percent of the donations have or will be directed to supporting the long-term recovery of flood-impacted communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota that received FEMA Individual Assistance designations.
To date, $735,000 in grants have been awarded from within three funding categories:
$535,000 was awarded to organizations who are providing housing-related individual assistance support to repair and/or rebuild homes that were damaged as a result of the floods in the following communities:
- Columbus Area (including Platte, Nance, Boone, Butler and Colfax Counties) – East Central Long Term Recovery Group
- Dawson County – Dawson County Recovery Group
- Douglas County - Douglas County Community Emergency and Natural Disaster Recovery Group, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
- Hall County – Heartland Disaster Recovery Group
- Kearney Area (including Kearney, Gibbon, Pleasanton, Ravenna, Shelton, Elm Creek, Amherst and Odessa counties) - Kearney Area Disaster Recovery Group
- Sargent Area- Central Nebraska Community Action Partnership
- Sarpy County – Sarpy County Long Term Recovery Group
$175,000 in Flood Mitigation Assistance, which is a requirement for homeowners within a flood plain to make necessary repairs to their flood-damaged homes. Money from the fund will help offset the homeowner’s 25 percent contribution that is required in order to repair homes and/or mitigate against future flooding. Funding was awarded to the following organizations in Nebraska:
- Greater Dodge County Long Term Recovery Group
- County of Pierce Economic Development
$25,000 toward the establishment of the Midwest Housing Resource Network, a statewide disaster resiliency network that was developed in response to the 2019 flooding to assist communities with identifying and addressing disaster-related housing needs and helping developers utilize funding sources effectively. Funding was provided to Midwest Housing Development Fund, and pooled with funding from other sources to fully establish this network to benefit residents across Nebraska.
An additional $100,000 in planned or pending grants that will be awarded in the spring of 2020 to two organizations serving western Iowa. These grants will fall within the funding categories listed above.
We remain forever grateful to donors of the Rebuild the Heartland Community Fund
When a disaster of this magnitudes strikes, it takes everyone working together to help recover and rebuild from the damages. Because of everyone who donated to the fund, hundreds of families are returning to the comfort of their own homes and moving forward in their everyday lives. For that, we will remain forever grateful. Their generosity and compassion will surely be remembered for generations to come.
To learn more about the grant recipients and the rebuilding efforts that are taking place because of the fund, click here.
The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.