ServeNebraska’s Step Forward Awards to Recognize Four Dodge County Disaster Volunteers

ASHLAND – Nebraska’s unprecedented natural disaster in March 2019 brought out the best of many, and ServeNebraska will recognize nearly 30 people, selected by Governor Pete Ricketts for their selfless contributions to the survivors of Nebraska’s historic flooding at the Step Forward Awards this Friday, October 25th at the Quarry Oaks Golf Club in Ashland.

Among the many honorees from across the state, there will be four honorees in three categories from the Dodge County area who showed selfless dedication to the service of others during the disaster:

Disaster Individual Volunteers

Alyssa Spartz
A University of Nebraska – Omaha student majoring in Emergency Management and Psychology, Alyssa put her course of study into action by volunteering with the Red Cross in Fremont. Alyssa started an emergency housing facility, setting up cots and organizing donations. Post flood, she assisted in cleaning homes of flood survivors and worked with the University of Nebraska’s project to rehabilitate the Washington County Fairgrounds which involved power washing, sanding and painting in preparation for the upcoming fair activities.

Kathy Kneifl
The Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) in Fremont became Kathy’s post for over two weeks. She tracked over 4,000 volunteers and served at the center from open to close during the greatest time of need. She coordinated volunteer requests from agencies, organizations and the Emergency Operations Center. She also managed operations of the Data Agency Coordination section of the VRC which included supervising other volunteers and relocating the VRC to another location.

Animal Rescue Disaster Volunteers

Catz Angels Rescue Effort
Cat lovers united to rescue hundreds of cats impacted by the flood. They tracked lost animals, fostered and adopted beloved pets needing refuge from the flood. Volunteers gathered supplies, made veterinary visits and took animals into their own homes. No one was turned away so furry friends could also weather the storms.

Media Disaster Volunteers

North Bend Eagle – Nathan Arneal

Owner/operator of his hometown newspaper, Arneal worked tirelessly to cover area flooding even though his own business and computer were destroyed. He immediately began filming flood updates and posted them to social media outlets keeping this Dodge County community of 1,200 well informed about the progression of the ravaging waters. His video updates and posts consisted of vital information such as road closures, rising waters, sewer capacity, evacuations, food trucks, laundry trucks, donation center information, survivor needs, volunteer registration site, and public information on the status of the community for concerned family and friends living outside of North Bend.

The North Bend Flood Recovery Committee appointed Nathan as the Public Information Officer making him the point person for media outlets around the country. All his time and efforts were done as an unpaid volunteer. On schedule, Nathan published a 16-page paper on March 20, 2019 which featured pictures and articles recounting local flood and recovery efforts.

“It is our honor to recognize the hard work of Nebraskans who volunteer to make this state a great place,” said Cathleen Plager, Executive Director of ServeNebraska. “We are looking forward to this wonderful event and meeting individuals who give so much of themselves to make our state so special,” stated Plager.