REALTORS® Raise Funds for Nebraska Flood Victims

April 5, 2019

The real estate community is rushing to help victims of record-breaking floods in the Midwest last month, which hit the state of Nebraska particularly hard. The REALTORS® Relief Foundation has partnered with the Nebraska REALTORS® Association to collect donations for mortgage and rental payment assistance for hundreds of residents who have been displaced.

Receding floodwaters are revealing extensive damage in affected communities, including crumbled bridges and roadways, homes and businesses covered in thick river silt, and acres of destroyed farmland. Some residents now find themselves homeless. A combination of melting snow and heavy rainfall in March caused rivers to crest and a dozen levees along the Missouri River to break, unleashing water and chunks of ice into towns across the Midwest. Nearly 70 percent of the 93 counties in Nebraska have declared states of emergency due to the flooding, which has been blamed for at least three deaths.

The REALTOR® community is spreading the word about how to help homeowners and renters who have been affected by the floods, soliciting donations via broadcast news, social media, and even the governor’s office. As of Thursday, 50 families had received housing-related assistance through the RRF, with more than $48,000 in grants distributed so far. Donations have been coming in from across the country, including two $25,000 donations from the Florida REALTORS® association and the Arizona Association of REALTORS®. Local associations and individual real estate professionals and brokerages are also contributing, Brookhouser says. One hundred percent of the funds collected go to disaster relief causes.

Brokerages are also hosting drives to help collect everyday necessities for flood victims. As soon as the floods hit, BancWise Realty in Lincoln, Neb., for example, stepped in to collect paper goods, food, clothing, and pet food.

Many small, rural areas in Nebraska were already facing housing shortages before the floods, Brookhouser says. “In the communities where housing has been lost from the floods, this is going to definitely have a real impact on housing availability even more going forward.” Cleanup efforts will be extensive, too. In some areas, the water stripped away topsoil and left behind mounds of sand. Acres of farmland, in some cases, were covered with two feet of sand after the waters receded. “The flooding has turned some farms into deserts” and suspended farmers’ livelihoods, Brookhouser says.

But Brookhouser says Nebraskans are resilient. “We’re just so grateful to those who have donated help so far,” she says. “These floods have had a huge impact on Nebraska. It’s going to be tough for a lot of residents. But I believe many will choose to rebuild.”