There is No Place Like Nebraska

There is no place like Nebraska
Dear old Nebraska U
Where the girls are the fairest
The boys are the squarest
Of any old place that I knew
There is no place like Nebraska
Where they’re all true blue
We’ll all stick together in all kinds of weather
For dear old Nebraska U.

These are the words to the school song of the University of Nebraska. Just about everyone who lives in that midwestern state knows these words, whether or not they attended that school. While the words refer to the student body of the University, they hold true for most of the people who live in this state from which my family and I hail.

Year after year, Nebraskans have watched hurricanes and volcanoes and tornadoes and floods and human evilness destroy communities in other states. Though it’s true that there have always been disasters (I remember the entire village of Primrose, Nebraska, for example, being destroyed by a tornado), I don’t personally remember anything that came close to the devastating floods that have hit central and eastern Nebraskans of late.

The photos you are (finally) seeing on the national news are of the town where I spent my formative years, and the communities nearby. Last I heard, one could literally not get into Columbus.

One of my cousins, who has a small business in Fremont but lives a few miles away in West Point was appealing to Facebook friends for advice on how to get into Fremont to check on her business. The answer — at least a day or so ago — was to forget about it; it was a no-go.

The photos and videos are horrifying. A lot of the town where I lived is literally under water. And it’s only one of many communities facing the same situation. People have lost their homes and their businesses. Farmers’ fields are under water and any seeds they’ve planted are destroyed.

But the biggest takeaway from this whole situation — at least for me — is how Nebraskans and other midwesterners aren’t whining and crying and waiting for help. They are helping each other. They are evacuating their friends and neighbors and total strangers. They are feeding first responders. They are providing moral support and praying and rescuing animals and comforting others.

Because that’s what Nebraskans do.

I became familiar with what was happening on Thursday via Facebook. By Friday, my sister Jen hadn’t heard a word about it on the national news, whose reporters are still trying to figure where Nebraska is located on the map. Facebook — which often gets a much-deserved bad rap — provided a lifeline to many people trying to find out what was going on in the vacuum that was the national media for several days.

Here is a photo that has gone viral on Facebook. The photo of a man named Craig Sorensen and his scared and shivering pooch Ollie was taken by his wife Julie Sorensen. The photo perfectly captures the sadness and confusion facing thousands of people.

Here is a link to a story about the photo and about the people facing a difficult future with grace.


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