For Omahan Stacey Quandahl, it was about rising to the occasion in the wake of last spring’s catastrophic flooding in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.
A grandmother of three, she was among thousands of residents who stepped up to help with the relief effort.
“I was moved to volunteer because I knew there was such a great need, and there has always been someone willing to help me in time of need,” she says.
Quandahl put in full days for about two weeks at the Salvation Army Western Division’s Disaster Resource Center (DRC) in the former Canfield’s Sporting Goods location at 84th Street and West Center Road.
“I just stopped in and said, ‘What do you need?’”
Organizers put her to work immediately.
Quandahl’s responsibilities ran the gamut — from helping flood victims find needed supplies to sorting donated goods to checking in and training fellow volunteers.
As Quandahl helped flood victims meet their material needs, she also gave them a mental outlet: “I just let them talk. That seemed to be really helpful to people, just letting them know that someone was there for them.”
At the height of the Salvation Army Western Division’s flood response — coordinated from Omaha headquarters — its officers, staff and volunteers were serving in about 20 counties among three states (Nebraska, South Dakota and the western two-thirds of Iowa). To date and with the support of countless flood relief volunteers and donors, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, the local Salvation Army has:
• Served more than 40,000 meals.
• Distributed more than 72,000 items, including flood-relief kits.
• Delivered more than 48,000 drinks (such as bottled water and Gatorade).
• Provided more than $1 million in direct financial assistance.
“Volunteer involvement in a disaster response such as this is extremely important to us,” says Major Greg Thompson, divisional commander. “Our volunteers put in more than 21,000 hours during the flood of 2019. Stacey did an outstanding job for us. We can’t thank her enough.”
On the front lines of the flood relief effort, Quandahl says she was incredibly impressed by the community response. “I was amazed by how we all pulled together. I felt blessed to live here and to be part of this community.”
The Salvation Army’s response left an impression, too. “I was attracted to how organized and compassionate they were,” she says. “They were willing to tackle any need and accept any donation.
“Sometimes you’re not sure what to do or how to help. The Salvation Army provided an avenue, and I was grateful for that.”
Quandahl adds: “Sometimes it might feel like my little part isn’t going to help that much, but every little bit — one item donated or one hour here and there — adds up and really does fill a big need.”
“Faces of Fearless” is a storytelling series in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s “Live Fearless” campaign celebrating people living their very best lives and inspiring others to do the same. Read the series on omaha.com.