When Winter Storm Ulmer cut its path across the Midwest, Nebraska was one of the hardest hit states. The March storm brought blizzards, rain, and high winds that were later followed by severe flooding across several states throughout the Midwest. AmeriCorps and Senior Corps national service members sprang into action to support survivors in the aftermath of winter’s last gasp.
The unusual storm was preceded by milder temperatures that surged northward ahead of it which allowed snow that was already on the ground to melt, ice on rivers to break up, and brought additional precipitation in the form of rain. The impact of this weather forced many evacuations, including a third of the 24,000 residents in Norfolk, Nebraska, due to concerns of flooding as the city's levee system neared its top.
Nearly 120 national service members responded during the disaster response in Nebraska from our CNCS programs.
- Two dozen local Senior Corps volunteers supported the response efforts in the Omaha area with disaster cleanup and at volunteer reception centers.
- Approximately 35 AmeriCorps members serving with FEMA Corps, a special unit formed in partnership with the emergency management agency to enhance the nation’s disaster response and recovery capacity, registered survivors for assistance.
- And nearly 40 members of the AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team led muck-and-gut operations, coordinated volunteers, and managed incoming donations.
In appreciation of the response to the storm and its aftermath, the Nebraska State Legislature passed a bipartisan resolution to recognize and thank AmeriCorps and Senior Corps for the rapid response and for serving along Nebraskans in their time of need. In addition to recognizing the work of the individual members and volunteers, it also acknowledged the contributions of ServeNebraska, the state service commission, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The resolution stated, “(T)he Legislature recognizes and thanks AmeriCorps and Senior Corps for the rapid response and for serving alongside Nebraskans in this time of need, offering their talents, their passion for service, and their commitment and dedication to serving our country at all times.”
The response in Nebraska is just one example of CNCS response to events in the region. Since March, nearly 300 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers have responded to disaster events including tornadoes and flooding across Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas.