A hay drive is going on today at the Verdigre Stockyard and Zim Metal parking lot to benefit Willard, Denise, and Elvira Ruzicka who are in dire need of assistance feeding their livestock.
Those with hay bales, regardless of the number, are asked to bring them today. Donations of feed, salt blocks, tubs, medicine or mineral can be taken to the Verdigre Stockyard parking lot.
For a monetary donation, click here.
For more information on the Ruzicka's story, click here.
Giant slabs of ice ripped through their house Thursday, leaving a trail of destruction from the mighty Niobrara River.
A five-generation farmstead, Willard and Denise Ruzicka of Verdigre, along with their son Anthony, are struggling to know where to turn and what to do now that their livelihood — not just their home and their sister's home — is gone after catastrophic flooding. Elvira Ruzicka's home was also destroyed.
“To see grown men crying like this,” friend Lori Knigge said. “This whole thing just breaks my heart. It’s devastating. The are a five-generation farm with no insurance. The whole places is destroyed. They need help.”
Friends of Ruzicka family, like Lori Knigge and Steve Kreycik, are trying to help the Ruzickas. Neighbors helping neighbors is happening all across Nebraska, but for farmers and ranchers, this tragedy runs deeper than structural loss as they try to find feed for their livestock.
With bridges out across the Niobrara River, Knigge said residents can’t get medical treatment, including chemotherapy medication for cancer. She said three-quarters of a mile of ice bergs remained Friday leading to the Pischiville bridge, one of just a handful of bridges left.
“We need heavy equipment. Back hoes or an excavator with a thumb,” she said. “We have a neighbor with a CAT moving on tracks, trying to open the road, but there’s flood water behind him. He’s trying to keep the flooding back and trying to get the water to go around. It’s nothing but ice to the whole approach of the bridge.”
Kreycik said the Ruzicka family made it out of the farm before the surge hit after the Spencer Dam broke, but it was close.
“Willard didn’t want to leave. This was his home, his livelihood,” Kreycik said. “This is a good family, and they need help from people.”
With the water from Spencer came more icebergs, Knigge said they ripped holes through the house, pushing mounds of dirt inside. Ice was left on countertops. Outbuildings were moved and destroyed. To see the devastation, she said, is simply unimaginable.
If that damage wasn’t terrible enough, word came after the surge that another was on its way. That’s when Ruzicka asked Knigge to photograph the damage — in case there was more and no even their destroyed home would be remain.
“When we thought another surge was coming, I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Knigge said through tears. “They wanted me to take pictures to have them, but we didn’t know if the second wall was coming. I was so scared. They are absolutely devastated and broken. This is all they’ve known their whole lives.
The Ruzicka family is trying to feed their livestock and keep that livelihood intact with little time and resources to worry about the home and belongings they no longer have. It’s unclear if they will receive federal support since President Trump has yet to name this a federal disaster.
But Knigge and Kreycik — and countless others from the area — are adamant that the Ruzicka family need help and are asking the public to donate time and manpower to help this family.
“We need manpower,” she said. “Man power and heavy equipment. And feed. The silage is down to an eighth of what it was before the flood, so we need feed for the livestock. Any help we can get will be appreciated.”
To donate to the family, click here.
The residents along the Niobrara River are being told to evacuate, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Department.
"The Knox County Sheriff's Office has been advised that the Spencer Dam has been compromised. We are trying to contact everyone along the Niobrara River to evacuate them," according to officials.
The Niobrara and Verdigre Fire Departments are on stand by.
Northeast Nebraska is expected to change from rain to snow quickly, resulting in a flash blizzard as wind gusts up to 60 mph. Temperatures are expected to reach freezing between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., making the morning commute dangerous, according to the National Weather Service.
Total snow accumulations of 2-5 inches is possible with near whiteout conditions developing through Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Expect slippery road conditions. Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
Are you ready for more snow? The National Weather Service is reporting snowfall totals of "at least 4 inches" are expected with the pending storm.
A Winter Weather Advisory begins at 6 p.m. tonight and will last through 9 a.m. Wednesday. The NWS reports that snow could be heavy at times and new snow accumulation of up to 6 inches is possible tonight. Southeast winds of 6 to 11 mph are expected. The low temperatures will be around 11 degrees tonight.
Knox County's two-day totals are predicted to be anywhere from 4 to 8 inches.
Travel difficulties are expected due to this storm.
Due to the extreme weather temperatures, there will be NO SCHOOL tomorrow, January 30th, at Bloomfield Community Schools. All students, 7-12, must take home their computers for E-day assignment completion.
Are you ready for another storm? The National Weather Service is reporting 2-3 inches of snow will fall tonight after freezing drizzle leaves dangerous conditions first.
A Winter Weather Advisory begins at 6 p.m. tonight and will last through 6 p.m. Tuesday. Winds will gust as high as 40 mph on Tuesday. Temperatures will be in the teens.
Travel difficulties are expected due to this storm.
If you're traveling through Knox County on Friday, the sheriff's office is recommending reduce speed and use caution. According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, all highways through the county are completely ice covered.
The sheriff's office is also reminding motorists to clear their windshield of ice and snow before traveling. Failure to do so is no only dangerous but illegal.
Knox County is in a Winter Weather Advisory through 6 a.m. Saturday. Snow accumulations are expected to total 1-3 inches. Locally higher amounts of snow are possible, according to the National Weather Service.
Motorists are advised to stay off highways since all roadways in Antelope and Knox counties remain completely snow covered.
According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Highway 275 is completely snow covered from Newport east to the Battle Creek spur. Highway 14 is also completely snow covered from Niobrara south to Petersburg. Highway 12 from near Mills eat to Ponca is completely covered, as is Highways 121, 59 and 84.
Winds will gust up to 40 mph throughout much of Friday. Wind will drop to 15 mph with gusts of 20 mph around 5 p.m. with the wind chill remaining around -9 all day. Saturday will be sunny with temperatures topping at 27.
A Winter Storm Warning will be in effect as of 6 a.m. Thursday morning through 6 a.m. Friday with 5-9 inches of heavy snow expected throughout the area and winds gusting up to 35 mph.
Holt County is expecting 5-13 inches of snow, meaning the line for heavy snowfall likely will run through Holt. Should it move more to the east than expected, snowfall in Knox and Antelope counties will be higher than currently predicted. Madison County is predicted to receive 1-4 inches of snow.
Traveling in Knox and Antelope counties may be difficult with areas of blowing snow reducing visibility for commuters. The high Thursday will be 32 degrees in the morning with temperatures falling throughout the day to a low of 13.