Woman buys out closing Payless store, donates 204 pairs of shoes for Nebraska flood victims

Woman buys out closing Payless store, donates 204 pairs of shoes for Nebraska flood victims
A photo of the flooding at the junction of I-29 and Hwy 2 in Iowa on April 2, 2019. (Photo Courtesy: Fremont County Emergency Management)

HAYS, Kan. — A Kansas woman donated 204 pairs of shoes to Nebraska flood victims after buying everything that was left at a closing Payless store.

The Hays Post reports the shoes were part of a flood relief shipment taken to farmers in Nebraska by Fort Hays State’s agriculture sorority, Sigma Alpha, during the weekend.

A graduate of Fort Hays State, Addy Tritt said she wanted to help others because so many people have helped her in the past.

When the price at a Hays store dropped to $1 per pair, Tritt negotiated with the business to buy the remaining shoes for $100.

They included 162 pairs of baby shoes and two pairs of men’s shoes. The rest were women’s shoes.

The retail price of the shoes would have been more than $6,000.

Disaster relief bill that would help flood victims stalls as Senate clashes over aid for Puerto Rico

Joseph Morton / World-Herald Bureau

WASHINGTON — A $13.5 billion federal disaster relief package that would help Nebraskans and Iowans has stalled in the Senate, with Republicans and Democrats clashing over how much additional money to include for Puerto Rico.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly last week to take up the bill but President Donald Trump has since objected fiercely to Democrats’ push to ramp up help for the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Republicans to support his side’s proposal to pump up aid to Puerto Rico. Schumer said Democrats will offer that proposal again, with even more money allocated for the flooded Midwestern states.

“I’d like those people who stand here from those Midwestern states to vote for our amendment,” Schumer said. “Not to say they won’t vote for it because it has money for Puerto Rico. If you care about Iowa and Nebraska and Missouri and the flooding, you’ll vote for our amendment.”

On Monday, 44 senators voted in favor of the relief package, well short of a majority, much less the 60 votes required to overcome a Democratic filibuster, sending GOP leaders back to the drawing board. The dispute seems unlikely to kill disaster aid efforts outright, with so much political support to send aid to Southern farmers, wildfire-ravaged California towns and Midwestern flood victims.

All four GOP senators from Nebraska and Iowa voted for the package. During Republican leaders’ Tuesday press conference, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, expressed disappointment in seeing the bill blocked.

“Folks in Iowa have lost their businesses, they have lost their homes,” Ernst said. “Our communities have lost their infrastructure. Livestock — gone. Grain — gone. It is devastating and it is heartbreaking.”

She said the GOP package represents the most comprehensive response available because it covered 2018 disasters as well as granting eligibility for assistance to flooded Midwestern states.

“A number of my Democratic colleagues have been finding their way all across Iowa, telling Iowans how important they are to them as the presidential caucuses are nearing,” Ernst said. “And yet they voted to block the very funding that would help these families out.”

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., similarly pointed to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s recent visit to Omaha and western Iowa as the Minnesota Democrat starts her White House bid.

“I would think she better think twice if she wants to show up in Omaha again,” Fischer said.

Fischer said billions already have been allocated for Puerto Rico and that the Republican proposal would have added more nutrition assistance on top.

“What’s going to be enough for them?” Fischer said of Democrats.

Schumer was asked if he thinks Republicans are just trying to use the situation to rough up Senate Democrats who are candidates for president.

“I think they never really care that much about the people in disaster areas, so they like to go through the motions but not get it done,” Schumer said. “But it’s easy to see through, and when we offer our amendment to fund the Midwest at an increased rate and fund Puerto Rico properly, we’ll really see where our Republican friends, particularly those from the Midwest, stand.”

Trump has claimed that additional Puerto Rico funding would come at the expense of U.S. farmers and states, and attacked the island’s political leaders, alleging that they “only take from USA.” Puerto Rico’s residents are U.S. citizens.

Democrats say Trump has been slow to release already appropriated funding for Puerto Rico and has shown little urgency in helping the island. Trump criticized the island’s government at a meeting with Senate Republicans last week and suggested that Puerto Rico has gotten too much disaster help compared with states such as Texas, using inflated numbers to make his case.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello responded with his own tweets, stating in part, “Mr. President, this ‘place’ you refer to, #PuertoRico, is home to over three million proud Americans that are still recovering from the storm and in need of federal assistance. We are not your adversaries, we are your citizens.”

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