The Midwest has been impacted by major flooding for nearly two weeks now. A blizzard in the West and a sudden spike in temperatures across the region caused large amounts of snowmelt and heavy rainfall to fill area rivers, impacting thousands across Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
The floods left cities, towns, and villages completely underwater, including one-third of Offutt Air Force Base, the headquarters for the United States Strategic Command. The base shut down, using most of its personnel to prevent flood waters from reaching more buildings on the base, requiring aircraft to be relocated. However, the efforts were called off when the water continued to rise. Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake, a 55th Wing spokeswoman based at Offutt told the Omaha World-Herald, “It was a lost cause. We gave up.”
The floods did not receive a lot of press in the mainstream media until United States Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to Nebraska this week. After his stop, the media picked up the story and the help started coming in.
General aviation pilots have been flying in supplies to towns that have virtually become islands, stores like Hy-Vee have sent convoys of grocery items, and hay by the truckloads with banners supporting Nebraska and Iowa can be seen driving towards the devastation.
Endeavor Air First Officer Adam Liston offered his support to his hometown of Fremont, Nebraska by flying supplies to the town and flying people in need, using his own aircraft.“As soon as I landed my plane, I would be surrounded by volunteers [unloading] the supplies,” Liston shared in a Facebook post. “I was just happy to help those families that were separated and bringing the daily things we take for granted. It was a lot of people’s first flight they will never forget.”
Shortly after Liston began his trips, other area pilots and volunteers stepped up to aid in the relief efforts. Liston and his wife, Mandi, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for supplies and mitigate aircraft fuel and rental cost. According to the crowdfunding site, pilots have racked up a bill of $15,000 during these relief flights.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have even joined in on the efforts by donating to the American Red Cross.
American has activated the airline’s disaster response giving process. AAdvantage members can now earn 10 miles for every one dollar donated to the Red Cross with a $25 minimum donation, until March 31. Donations to the Red Cross will assist with providing shelter, food, supplies, and health services to the affected areas. Donations can be made via RedCross.org/aa
Delta is offering their support by donating $100,000 to the Red Cross. “Our commitment to global communities means lending a hand to our employees and customers when they need it most,” said Tad Hutcheson, Managing Director – Community Engagement. “We also recognize the strength in partnerships, providing support for organizations like the American Red Cross to aid in disaster relief year-round.”