Fran Geisler speaks softly and calmly when she talks about the losses.

The home she shares with her husband, Tom, probably will need to be rebuilt due to flood waters that inundated their crop and pastureland, led to livestock deaths, ruined at least two vehicles and carried away bales of hay.

Neighbors helped them get farm equipment out of a shed.

And last Wednesday, the Winslow area couple saw more kindness when a semi-truck load of 37 huge round bales of hay were brought to this area from Oklahoma.

Working with a Facebook group called Wildfire & Disaster Ag Community Relief, area residents connected with people in Oklahoma to bring donated hay to Nebraska.

“It’s unbelievable — to help people like this,” said neighbor Ron Stockfleth of Hooper of the group and others who’ve helped.

Stockfleth is keeping the hay at his farm, since the Geislers’ land is either flooded or too muddy.

“There’s probably at least 5 feet (of water) going across our place,” Fran Geisler said Wednesday. “My husband could not even walk out to feed his calves for four days.”

The Geislers live on a farm just across the road north of Winslow, a town devastated by widespread flooding that occurred two weeks ago. Like other area residents, they were rescued by airboat and returned home to assess the flood-caused damage.

“Our house is high enough,” she said. “We only got 4 inches on our main floor, but the foundation is gone on the south side of the house. We had 26 calves in the pen we couldn’t get out.”

The calves lived. Other livestock didn’t.

“We lost two cows and two calves at his mom’s place, east of Winslow,” she said.

Large ice chunks washed in by the flooding dented some of the Geislers’ farm buildings.

“We were fortunate enough to have good farm neighbors come over and help get some of the equipment out of the shed. They power washed it all for us,” she said.

The Geislers will need to replace fencing and flood waters washed away their small square bales of hay.

But through a series of connections, the Geislers got some much-needed hay for their livestock.

It began when Fremonter Marsha Sullivan, who was trying to locate hay for a friend, discovered the Wildfire & Disaster Ag Community Relief Facebook page.

Sullivan contacted Hooper area resident Donna Kriete, who said the Geislers needed hay. Kriete contacted Melanie Pennebaker, the Wildfire Facebook page’s administrator, who contacted the Stockfleths. Pennebaker also worked with hay donor Toby Metzger of Braggs, Okla., and Michael Hermesch of Croweta, Okla., who drove it to Nebraska.

On March 27, Hermesch made an approximately 1,100 mile roundtrip to deliver the hay.

But that wasn’t his first — nor will it be his last — trip. Hermesch came to the Fremont area three times last week and plans to return on Wednesday.

Why would someone drive all those miles?

“We figured we were hurting less than you guys are,” said Hermesch, who suspects his own wheat crop probably won’t be so good this year.

Stockfleth’s wife, Judy, said donations help pay for the gas. John Kriete drove a pay loader with a bale fork to get the bales off the flatbed trailer and onto the ground at the Stockfleth’s land.

Geisler will have access to the hay and Fran said they are very grateful for the donation.

Fran noted some of the difficulties they’ve dealt with since the flooding.

“We have no Internet service,” she said. “We have no landline. We don’t even have electricity in the house anymore.”

And Geislers aren’t alone in their losses.

“We’re not the only ones — the whole town of Winslow — it’s like a war zone,” she said. “My husband’s lived here all his life. He’s never seen it this bad.

“It’s devastating,” she added. “But my favorite saying is: ‘God is good all the time.’”

On Monday, Fran sounded even more upbeat.

“The sun is shining,” she said.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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