1997 Midwest blizzards fence replacement
One Hundred Thirty Miles of Missing Fence——REPLACED!
Thousands of volunteers helped with disaster recovery in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota during 1997-1999. Blizzards from the winter of 1996-‘97 left snow-banks 20-feet-high in many places and killed livestock of all kinds in the three-state area. The floods that followed in South Dakota and along the Red River of the North made national news. Orphan Grain Train and “One Good Cow” shipped building supplies, equipment, and nearly 1,000 pregnant cows to North and South Dakota in ‘97-‘98. But the media did not report the lost fence-lines of the western Dakotas.
The first blizzard covered warm soil in October 1996. A new blizzard came each week until January 1997. Several feet of snow accumulated though out the winter with no thaw. The resulting ice pack drove fence-posts into the ground like “nails into a board.”
Melting snow made floods the next concern. By the time “One Good Cow” started shipping live cows in the fall of 1997, Orphan Grain Train heard comments like, “Don’t send cattle until I get my fences fixed.” Orphan Grain Train volunteers and Lutheran Social Service (LSS) understood the need when they saw the miles of missing fence. Braids of barbed wire stretched from sunken post to sunken post, creating a landscape of “connect the dots.” Old-timers had seen nothing like it before.
Orphan Grain Train worked with LSS of South and North Dakota on fence replacement. With Lutheran Hour Ministries relief money, Orphan Grain Train purchased posts and wire at less than wholesale cost. Donated trucking moved the materials from Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Dakota’s for use by Laborers for Christ and Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers.
In the summer of 1998, volunteers replaced over 130 miles of fence. The estimate in donated man-hours amounted to over 4,000. Estimated value of donated trucking, labor and food, as well as $86,000 worth of posts and wire, now total more than $400,000 for this project. More fence was replaced in the summer of 1999 in North Dakota, but on a lesser scale.
Gratitude to God has been etched on human hearts through this effort. Gifts from Lutheran Hour Ministries and Orphan Grain Train donors, coordination by Orphan Grain Train and Lutheran Social Services and much toil by Laborers for Christ made this work a blessing for those involved.
One farmer, who could not finish re-fencing without help, thanked the Laborers for Christ foreman in a personal way. When the final strand of wire was hammered tight, the farmer reached into his pocket for an old arrowhead he found years ago. A prized memento of younger years, this gift for the foreman was his public tribute for help received.
Other responses to the One Good Cow and fence replacement…
“Thank you very much for the posts & wire we recently received in Grant County. Because of your generous efforts, approximately 35 families in our community were given much needed supplies. Many acts of fellowship were shown throughout the day as neighbors helped neighbors in the distribution.
Thank you again for helping organize Such a worthwhile project.”
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. -Proverbs chapter 14 verse 31
“Thank you to everyone who works with Orphan Grain Train. Our family is most appreciative of your work. We thank you and whomever for the gift of posts and wire sent to Grant County, ND. It was most delightful to see total strangers help one another load posts and wire. Please thank those who donated time, talent, and supplies.”
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians Chapter 3, verse 17.
Shirley Conrad, Coordinator from Lutheran Social Services, Rapid City, SD, told us that Lutheran Social Services/Lutheran Disaster Response has assisted people in that area since the fall of 1997—related to the blizzards of ‘96-‘97. The area has been blessed with 180 volunteers from 12 states working approximately 4300 hours on people’s homes, fences, and tree lines. Over 250 families were assisted either through mental health counseling, family grants, food distribution, energy assistance and construction assistance.
Conrad says this work could not have been done without the many organizations that donated money, supplies, and food. She thanks the following who joined in assisting families in this area: Orphan Grain Train (One Good Cow), American Red Cross, Aid Association for Lutherans, Lutheran Brotherhood, and Laborers for Christ.
2007 Colorado Blizzard Relief
Colorado West Division reaches out to blizzard-stricken ranchers
By Lanelle Krueger
Colorado West Division
For ranchers in an eight-county area in rural southeast Colorado, 2007 arrived with an unforgettable vengeance in the way of a four-day blizzard, leaving four feet of snow and eight-foot high drifts in its wake. The storm knocked out power for days in some areas, rendered roads impassable and put an estimated 345,000 head of cattle at risk. Thankfully, no major injuries or deaths were reported from the storm, which caught some people unprepared given the unpredictability of nature and uncertain weather forecasting in the Rocky Mountains region.
Emergency management agencies quickly rallied to assist ranchers in getting hay to their isolated cattle stranded in deep snow across the 16,000 square-mile territory that is home to 76,000 residents. Using both ground and air resources, including eight helicopters and a C-130 aircraft, approximately 150 National Guard troops delivered hundreds of bales of hay to cattle and horses in the first three days of the year, according to a National Guard press release.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) headquartered in Arvada, Colo., estimated up to 15,000 head of cattle, valued at $13 to $15 million, perished from the storm, according to Terry Fankhauser, CCA executive vice president.
When the leadership committee of the Colorado West Division of Orphan Grain Train convened its regular monthly meeting Jan. 9th at Peace Lutheran Church in Arvada, two blocks from the CCA office, the plight of the ranchers was on the mind of Division President Lou Boette. “They were hurting,” he said, “and we wanted to do something.”
Without fanfare and in humility characteristic of the committee, a motion was made and seconded to send $2,000 into the area and it passed unanimously. The donation, restricted to help the ranchers, was then routed through the disaster response office at OGT’s International Office in Norfolk, Nebr., to the CCA.
Fankhauser said all restricted gifts were used for their intended purposes. None of the money coming in, designated or otherwise, went to overhead, he said, explaining that an application review process was established to channel monetary aid directly to the ranchers suffering loss. “We let them know where those donations came from start to finish,” he said, noting OGT would have been on the list of donors.
At the time of the blizzard, the CCA did not have as part of its mission a disaster response component. “We do now,” Fankhauser said, explaining that the CCA, Colorado Farm Bureau and Colorado Livestock Association have together set up a permanent revolving fund for future disaster response “to be more efficient and effective right then and there.” Undesignated funds donated to the three organizations in the aftermath of the blizzard were pooled to establish the fund.
Fankhauser noted that ongoing ancillary impacts on the ranching community would include dealing with property damage, fence repair, carcass disposal, a less than optimal calving season and cattle weakened with sickness. “It took a quarter of the year to work through everything to get their feet back on the ground,” he said of the ranchers. The CCA was still locating hay for people into March and dead cattle were being discovered as the last of the snow receded. Luckily, the melt was fairly slow, so residual flooding was not an issue, Fankhauser said. The silver lining once past the destruction brought on by the storm, he continued, was that “when we came to spring, the grass was green and the cattle became fat over the summer.”
“We were very appreciative of your organization,” Fankhauser said, adding that such generosity at the time gave the ranchers a “ray of hope” when it was needed.