NORFOLK, NE — Pastor Ray Wilke is used to helping victims of natural disasters… but this time it’s different.
This time it’s personal for the President of the Orphan Grain Train. Historic flooding has devastated his native Nebraska. This time it’s even affected his daughter.
“It brings it home pretty fast,” Wilke said. “My son-in-law called me at 3:30 AM and said, ‘I’m trying to nail boards to the basement window but it’s coming in in faster than I can nail up the boards.’”
Wilke’s daughter lives about 10 miles north of Norfolk, the headquarters for the Orphan Grain Train. The Christian volunteer network ships donated food and supplies to 68 different countries. For this disaster, the supplies barely needs to leave the offices.
As far as the supplies, it’s a simple process to decide what to give.
“We’re doing exactly as they asked, but if they don’t specify, we go where most needed,” Wilke said. “We’re going to try to deal with Norfolk, Pierce, we’re already up in Spencer.”
Right now people have been asking for water. Donations from the Norfolk religious community and Nucor have allowed the Grain Train to purchase two 6,200-gallon water tankers to bring water to communities without a safe supply.
Wilke says the Grain Train hasn’t had to search for donations or volunteers because Nebraskans are neighborly by nature.
“It’s as if you ask, you receive,” Wilke said. “It’s been overwhelming – enough to bring tears to your eyes.”
Wilke says his team isn’t just here for the short-term. They’ll be helping out their home state for the long haul.
“We’re not the first responders… but we’re the last ones to leave,” Wilke said.