Paul Allen, a 75-year old cattle rancher in Bristow, Nebraska, took a terrible hit when, in the early hours of March 14, a dam collapsed about 4 miles from his ranch along the Niobrara river.
His fields flooded — killing at least 60 cows and bulls (nearly a third of his herd), damaging equipment, taking out miles of fence and covering his land in mud and giant chunks of ice. Allen says the ice will have to melt before he can fully assess the damage, but the total cost is likely to exceed $150,000. None of it is covered by insurance, though he will get some relief from federal and state emergency programs.
Nebraska was among the worst hit states earlier this month, when a combination of record rain and a devastating storm known as a “bomb cyclone” (i.e. a storm that drops about 24 millibars in atmospheric pressure, over 24 hours) caused widespread flooding in the Midwest. At least 1 million acres of farmland flooded in nine different states, with damages currently estimated to top 3 billion dollars.
The devastation from the flooding is a hard pill to swallow for farmers across the Midwest, with many of them struggling to break even, due to a crushing combination of tariffs, low commodity prices and natural disasters like this one.
Nevertheless, Allen loves life on his ranch and is not about to give up, no matter what it takes. “I know we’ll get through it,” he told VICE. “It’s just something you’ve got to do. And on top of everything else, the people that have been helping and calling us… crazy! There’s just all kinds of help out there.”
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