Returning the favor
As the old saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”
That’s not always a bad thing. Just ask the community of Winslow, Nebraska.
Last week, Winslow was one of several towns and cities across the state affected by flooding. Floodwater impaired the town’s main roads, making travel in and around the area difficult. House foundations were heavily damaged and streets became rivers of mud.
“You just don’t expect something like this until it happens,” said Zac Klein, Chief of the Winslow Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). “You don’t know what all of the community’s needs will be.”
Following the national news of the impact on Winslow, one Nebraska town over 400 miles away quickly took notice.
In 2017, the Winslow VFD loaned firefighting equipment provided by the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) to Dalton, Nebraska Fire & Rescue. The equipment included much needed firefighter protective clothing, also known as “bunker gear.” Dalton figured now was as good a time as any to return that favor. Local businesses and community members began to rally in support of Winslow - collecting financial donations, non-perishable food, clothing, and cleaning and pet supplies.
“We were just amazed at what our little town of about 300 people was able to accomplish,” Dalton Fireman Sam Schumacher said. “They didn’t hesitate and it definitely makes you proud.”
It wasn’t long before Schumacher and Dalton Fire Chief Jerred Berner loaded up a large trailer with the supplies, made the six-hour drive, and arrived at the Hooper, Nebraska city auditorium – the central hub for Winslow donations and volunteers.
“I don’t know if you remember this, but you loaned us some pretty important equipment a few years back.” chuckled Chief Berner as he opened the trailer gate.
Berner and Schumacher were met with hugs as supplies were unloaded, and subsequently transported to the citizens of Winslow, who are beginning the lengthy process of repairing and rebuilding the town’s infrastructure and homes.
Many Nebraskans are still assessing flood damage and what it will mean as they move forward. Meanwhile, NFS continues to help coordinate efforts between Nebraska’s fire departments to get grant-funded equipment to flood-affected communities and the emergency responders who need them most. As Berner puts it, we’re all trying to make the best possible use of the resources available.
“You can see just by looking at the equipment and trucks all around us. They’re from the Nebraska Forest Service. We rely heavily on them – and they help us in times like this.”