The North Bend Eagle



Donation Depot served flood relief needs

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 4/10/19

After three weeks of continuous operation, the Donation Depot is now closed.
It grew out of a need to respond to the flood that covered North Bend March 15 and the flood of donations that followed. The North Bend Fire Department was forced out of its station by the flood waters and moved to the high school to set up a recovery headquarters. And the donations started to come in. A few were ok. But when more started to come in, the fire personnel knew they needed help.

Donation Depot
Anne Soukup and Wendi Emanuel organized and ran the Donation Depot for its 21 days of operation. Kragh Johnson was a third member of the organization team, but all volunteers were equally appreciated.

Wendi Emanuel’s name was brought up. Emanuel had experience setting up the Blessings Store the last few Christmases. Emanuel went down to NBC to evaluate things on Sunday, March 17, and soon realized she needed help. Anne Soukup was suggested. When Emanuel called her, Soukup didn’t hesitate.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Emanuel said. “I knew how many donations we would get for Christmas Blessings – which is a lot – but this was like that on steroids.”

The two women got together at noon on Sunday, two days after the flood began, and set up the old NBC gym. Emanuel made signs to place items logically around the gym. That night, the two women called friends to help man the donations coming in and going out. They wore green aprons from the Blessings event to standout. The numbers of volunteers varied, maxing out on Sunday, March 24, with 108 volunteers helping at the Donation Depot.

Their initial list included a dozen items that had been donated. Around midday Monday, March 18, donations started to pour in.

“I was surprised by where we would have donations coming in from,” Emanuel said. “It was overwhelming to see how much our neighbors near and far cared for our community. And I knew we had a great community who was no stranger to volunteering, but the hours put in by people was unbelievable.”

Soukup agreed with the overwhelming response for those donating and volunteering.

“The sheer volume of generosity and love for our community came through the donations from about 50 Nebraska communities and nine states, and the wonderful community volunteers who showed up to help,” Soukup said. “We couldn’t have done this without all the volunteers, some had their own flood damage to clean up. Also, memorable was the amount of flood devastation and sadness for some in our community. They just needed to tell their story and have someone listen.”

Soukup has been at the Depot every day since it opened. Emanuel took off one day to see her family.

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