Collaboration in Action: Nebraska Flood Relief

Community Response

Many of the Community Collaboratives that Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports implement a coordinated prevention service system called Community Reponse.

Community Response (CR) is a voluntary system that’s available to all youth and families in a community, connecting them with resources and support to help them achieve their goals. CR is designed to reduce unnecessary involvement of higher-end systems (child welfare, juvenile justice, etc.) while increasing the informal and community supports in place for families.

Because of the Community Collaboratives already in place, communities were ready to respond to the flooding crisis that many experienced in 2019. Relationships were already established, fund management was already in place, as well as a network of providers to assist in the myriad of needs individuals had due to flooding.

Prior to the disaster, Community Response had almost 3 million dollars through a mix of public and private sources across the state. Nebraska Children supported communities’ CR dollars going towards the immediate needs of youth and families impacted by
the flooding.

As a response to the flooding disaster an additional $700.000+ has been donated by private philanthropy to assist youth and families directly for flood-related crisis. These additional private dollars have gone to Sarpy, Fremont, Peru, and Grand Island. In these communities, housing is by far the biggest need and dollars are being used in a variety of ways based on each community’s Community Response. The private dollars have also been used as match dollars for greater housing efforts and housing proposals/applications with additional partners.

A Personal Story

The numbers are certainly impressive, but what’s more powerful is hearing the stories of how collaboratives are truly able to help families when they need it most. This spring and summer, Nebraska has experienced prolonged, catastrophic flooding that has affected communities and families across the state, causing loss of homes, property, livestock, and more. But what the flooding hasn’t destroyed is our communities’ capacity for coming together and supporting one another – and that’s been even more apparent in the ways community collaboratives have stepped up to help. Here’s one story:

Lisa’s Story

Lisa is a mother who lost her Bellevue trailer in the flood water. She and her children were displaced to Calvary Church for shelter. Lisa was under such severe, constant stress that she cracked her jawbone from clenching and needed medical attention to address the fracture. Lisa is on disability and had almost paid off her trailer – she only had $2,000 left to pay on it. She was able to meet all of her family’s needs before the flood. After the flood, however, she was left with nothing, living in a shelter with terrified children and pets.

She and her children were not sleeping, as the dynamics of being in a shelter filled with strangers left the children fearful to fall asleep. The school was calling her to pick them up each day because they were falling asleep in class after being up all night. Lisa and her family were connected with Lift Up Sarpy County, the local collaborative supported by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. Through the network of agencies and schools that are part of the collaborative, Lisa and her family were able to move into a two-bedroom furnished home within one week of the crisis.

The collaborative was also able to help her seek medical attention and have her jaw wired shut to heal. The family has since been able to rest easy, feeling safe in a home, and the children are able to make it through the day at school without falling asleep or needing their mother. For the long term, the collaborative’s Community Response program is working with Lisa on purchasing a new home, as her equity and good credit make her a great candidate for low-interest loan and asset-matching strategies that the collaborative is utilizing in partnership with local banks.

Lisa’s story shows how crucial it is for communities to work together to keep bad circumstances from breaking families apart. Thanks to the prevention strategies in place through Lift Up Sarpy County, Lisa and her children were able to stay together and safe, and they’re looking ahead to a better future as a family. And really, that’s what prevention and community-based collaboration are all about: strengthening families and keeping them together through whatever life throws at them.

If you see an individual or family that needs extra support, access to resources, or a specific community service, please encourage them to contact the community collaborative in their area. More information can be found at

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Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

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