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Fundraising efforts underway for Nebraska flood victims

A devastating storm termed a "bomb cyclone" ripped through America's heartland in mid-March. A perfect storm of wind, rain and snow wreaked havoc on Nebraska and the surrounding region just as calving season had begun for many ranchers.

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A devastating storm termed a "bomb cyclone" ripped through America's heartland in mid-March. A perfect storm of wind, rain and snow wreaked havoc on Nebraska and the surrounding region just as calving season had begun for many ranchers.

As dams broke, rivers swelled and entire cities were enveloped with raging waters, the destruction is ongoing weeks later.

Satellite data analyzed by Gro Intelligence for Reuters estimated that at least 1.1 million acres of farmland and 84,000 acres of pasture have been flooded.

In an interview with CBSN, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts called the flooding the "most widespread destruction we've ever seen in our state's history."

Ricketts said initial estimates show $400 million in livestock losses and $440 million in grain losses, with more to come as the road to recovery will be a long one.

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And in the face of such massive and total loss, the agricultural community is quietly banding together to show its support. Using the hashtag #NebraskaStrong, many are organizing fundraisers and raising awareness about what these producers are facing.

Soon after the storm hit, the Nebraska Cattlemen launched the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, with 100% of all donations received to be distributed to Nebraska's cattle producers who have been impacted by this weather event.

"We know the needs are great, and we hope this new fund will help Nebraska's cattle producers who are suffering," Mike Drinnin, Nebraska Cattlemen president, said in a press release.

Check donations can be made out to the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund and mailed to: Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521.

An online fundraiser organized by Jamie Glantz, a producer from Frederick, Colo. is rallying additional donations for the relief fund. Proceeds from each sale of a #NebraskaStrong mug or hat go directly toward the relief fund. So far, 86 items have been sold and $1,220 raised.

Orders can be placed online here: www.customink.com/fundraising/nebraska-strong-long-live-agriculture-mug

"Wanting to do more, we set out to design a logo that truly meant something to us," Glantz wrote. "These mugs and hats serve as a reminder that, 'Nebraska it's not for everyone.' Nebraskans are hardy. They don't need media notoriety. They don't take crisis and try to turn them into personal or political gain. They lower their heads and plow through, sometimes with tears flowing. These are for the hard working, kind hearted, help your neighbor kind of people, and they need your help unlike ever before! By purchasing a hat or mug, you will be helping those that put food on your table each and every day."

On a larger scale, Culver's pledged to donate 20% of its sales from March 27 at all Nebraska locations.

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"Supporting communities in need is a part of Culver's core values," said Joe Koss, Culver's president and chief executive officer. "We are proud to provide aid to those people affected by the floods."

And Hy-Vee stores announced it would match any customer donations received at all Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa, Hy-Vee stores up to $50,000. This donation will benefit the American Red Cross of Nebraska and southwest Iowa.

Online donations for Hy-Vee's effort can be pledged here: www.redcross.org/local/nebraska.html .

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