By Bishop James Conley
The State of Nebraska along with several states in the Midwest have experienced devastating flooding during the past week. A recent “bomb cyclone” unleashed massive amounts of rain, which, combined with the snow that was already on the ground, wreaked havoc on farms, homes, and businesses throughout the state.
Streams, creeks and rivers that are normally quiet and static flowed freely, carrying with them enormous chunks of ice and anything entering their path. Towns have been turned into islands; bridges and roads have been washed away. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts described the flooding as “the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history.”
I have read harrowing stories of those who frantically left their homes, gathering what they could and trying to make it to higher ground as the flood waters approached. Sadly, this flooding has not been without human loss. At the time this column was written there were four reported fatalities. One man, James Wilke of Columbus, died trying to help rescue others from the floodwaters.
Many people are going through a great deal of anguish at this time. Those who have evacuated their homes are wondering what they will find when they return. There is a great deal of anxiety in the hearts of many suffering Nebraskans.
And yet, somehow the worst human tragedies bring out the best in people. I have seen the great resilience of the people of Nebraska during these past few weeks. Nebraskans thrive in the face of adversity and hardship.
We witness this in law enforcement, emergency officials, and rescue personnel, who have placed themselves in harm’s way to help those trapped by the rapidly-rising waters.
Rescuers have traveled home to home by boat, looking for anyone who might be in danger. Pilots have volunteered their services to unite families displaced by the flooding and have taken their planes to help take supplies in and out. Even people who have lost their homes are going to shelters and volunteering their time and money.
Communities are coming together to help one another. In Plattsmouth, 40 people came to help sandbag the streets to protect the downtown. Truckers are driving extra miles to provide supplies for those who are in need.
As Catholics, we, of course, believe that it is our duty to help out of neighbor in need. As our Lord tells us, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40). Charity, the love of God, that we accept and receive as a gift of God pours forth into our love of neighbor.
Our very discipleship, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, demands that we care for others. During this season of Lent, we pay special attention to prayer and fasting, but also to almsgiving, being attentive to those who are in need.
We may find ourselves far distant from the flooding, and yet wanting to help fellow Nebraskans who are in need. We, of course, can offer our prayers for those affected by the flooding, but all need to assist them with their basic needs.
The corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and giving shelter to the homeless. Many of our fellow Nebraskans are in need of our assistance at this time.
Catholic Social Services, the charitable arm of the Diocese of Lincoln, is accepting monetary donations to assist those affected by the catastrophic ongoing flood/storm damage in Nebraska. Please be generous in assisting those impacted by these horrible floods.
Editor’s note from CSS: Catholic Social Services is accepting monetary donations to assist those affected by the catastrophic ongoing flood/storm damage in Nebraska. It is at times like these that we are all called to help our friends, relatives and neighbors who are suffering. Checks may be mailed to our Catholic Social Services administrative offices (2241 O St. Lincoln NE 68510) OR you may donate via our website at www.cssisus.org. If donating by check, be sure to list “flood relief” in your check memo. If donating online, designate “flood relief” in the “specific designation for your gift” field. Please help us help those who have lost so much. God bless you for your support and continued prayers! CSS is US!