The state of Nebraska is continuing to recover from the devastating floods that have obliterated everything in their wake. So far, 74 cities, 65 counties and four tribal areas in Nebraska have declared a state of emergency due to the deluge, and at least three people have been confirmed dead.
One of the worst affected farms in the region belongs to the Ruzicka family — fifth-generation ranchers who date their cattle farm all the way back to the Homestead Act of 1862. The rach took a huge hit from the ice-laden flood waters, after the Spencer Dam was compromised and vast quantities of frigid water began to pour onto the land.
The loss of cattle, machinery and property was absolutely devastating, with Anthony Ruzicka saying earlier this week that there was likely no way that the family’s business would recover from this, the worst flooding in 50 years.
However, this stoic family is certainly not giving up, and is asking for all the help they can get at this extremely testing time. Faithwire spoke with neighbor and family friend, Lorie Kreycik Knigge, who was there when the waters rushed in, to get an update on the current situation at the Ruzicka farm.
“The current situation is improving,” she said. “Friends and neighbors and volunteers have been here every day helping clean up. The ice chunks are being pulled out of the remains of buildings and their belongings are slowly being pulled out of the ice and mud.”
Knigge recalled receiving the call that the Spencer Dam had split, and said that from this point on, it was a mad rush to try and salvage anything they could from the farm.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like this in my life. When we received the call at 6:30 a.m. that the Spencer dam had broke, we jumped up and grabbed clothes and ran out the door,” she explained. “Our first thought was to get the Ruzickas and their livestock safety. We worked for two and a half hours along with about 15 people, including their family and neighbors that came to help. We moved machinery and vehicles as fast as we could. The Ruzicka family had worked the entire day before until 4 a.m., moving as much of their livestock to safety.”
Once the water had settled, however, the extent of the damage and loss became clear.
“Their silage pile is down to an eighth of the size,” Knigge explained. “All of their mineral, vet supplies and vaccines have been washed away. Most of their fences and working corrals are destroyed are gone.”
‘The water was right behind us’
Knigge recalled the horrifying moment that the icy water began rushing into the historic farmyard, sweeping away everything in its path.
“I called a neighbor across the river to tell me when the wall of water went by his place. When he called we had 10 minutes to get out,” Knigge explained. “As we were pulling out of their yard, the water was right behind us. By the time we got to the end of the lane, I think we were all in tears, as the water and ice [were] rushing through their farm.”
“I’m just glad that everyone is alive,” she said. “The livestock we weren’t able to get out. It is heartbreaking — newborn calves. The 300 cows have all been born and raised on their place. It’s devastating.”
How can people help?
Besides praying for this heartbroken family, you can also donate to a GoFundMe page which has been set up to help with costs arising from this catastrophic weather phenomenon. As Knigge noted to us, the Ruzicka family did not hold any insurance and were completely blindsided by the disaster, so “any help or donations would be much appreciated.”
So far, over $30,000 has been raised for the family — with many messages of love, support and prayer posted to the page.
“The outpouring of help from family friends, neighbors and volunteers is helping lift spirits and giving the family hope,” Knigge said.
Indeed, despite the monumental setback, senior member of the Ruzicka family, Willard, said he would not be giving up this historic plot of land without a fight.
“[Willard’s] grandson is [the] sixth generation to farm this place,” Knigge said. “And he’s not going to be the one to break that chain!”
“There is hope for the future when you’re surrounded by a great support system,” she added. “We’re just not neighbors out here, we are family.”
Do continue to pray for all those affected by these devastating floods.