Laughter Amid the Loss: Remembering the Flood of 2019

Mar 18, 2020

Omaha resident and longtime Salvation Army volunteer Curtis Becker was quick to respond last spring when it became apparent that the flooding would cause wide-spread devastation. “I’m retired, so I have time available,” he said. Curtis signed up to help collect and organize thousands of supplies donated to The Salvation Army’s temporary flood-relief warehouse at the former Canfield’s Sporting Goods store in Omaha. Later Curtis drove hundreds of miles and spent dozens of hours delivering truckloads of food, water and clean-up kits to flood survivors in cities and towns across Nebraska and western Iowa.

“Norfolk, Sioux City, Fremont, Hamburg, Sidney, Ogallala, Kearney, Blair, Council Bluffs, Bellevue…I saw a lot of flooding as I was driving. Interstates were closed, water was on both sides of the road, fields were totally wiped out,” he recalled. “The people we delivered the supplies to were very, very appreciative.”

Western Division officers Capt. Bridgette Amick and Maj. Deannie Moore oversaw volunteer operations at Canfield’s, which transitioned from a collection/donation site to a Disaster Resource Center (DRC) for flood survivors on March 21. 2019. “We came in at day four or five of the flood, and we were shocked at the number of donations that had already come in and the volunteers by the dozens who were already helping,” recalled Capt. Bridgette.

“It was invaluable to have the volunteers,” added Maj. Deannie. “They all came from different backgrounds, and they all had different things they were good at, but it was amazing how all the different skills fit together and were just what we needed.” 

Capt. Bridgette and Maj. Deannie got to know many of the repeat volunteers during the nearly four weeks the DRC was in operation at the former Canfield’s location. They remember a lot of laughter, joy and peace, even amid the chaos and loss. “People came in desperate need, and they came out with a smile on their face,” said Maj. Deannie.

“Everyone handles disaster and loss in a different way,” she added. “But by the grace of God, we were able to have all those volunteers there with diverse personalities, so there was always someone to meet the emotional need. If someone needed prayer, if someone needed a hug or just a person to sit with them, every need was met, which was wonderful.”

It’s been a year since floodwaters wreaked havoc on the lives of hundreds of individuals and families across the region, but Curtis, Capt. Bridgette and Maj. Deannie won’t soon forget their experience. “I was thankful to be able to help and thankful that The Salvation Army could organize the relief effort,” Curtis said.

“There are wonderful opportunities in The Salvation Army if you are looking to serve or to meet needs,” added Maj. Deannie. “I would encourage you to find that opportunity; find the purpose God has called you to.”


Related Content: Volunteering, 2019 Flood, Emergency Assistance, Disasters / Emergencies, disaster relief, help disaster survivors, Local/Community Support