First Lutheran, FEMA still offering help

With most disaster relief agencies gone, the First Lutheran Church will soon be the only organization open to assist victims of the Arbor Day tornado. 
Erika Cada, director of children's and youth ministries is coordinating the church’s relief efforts and said in a Facebook post that they are “going to remain open for all storm victims indefinitely.”
The church is asking for gas and grocery gift cards to assist victims financially. Cada said some residents have temporarily relocated to Fort Calhoun and the Omaha area as they go through the rebuilding process. 
“Their gas bills are much higher with kids' activities and you know going back and forth from work, so we're just trying to help them out financially right now after we get them situated,” Cada said. 
The church also set up a disaster relief fund people can donate to for any Washington County residents who have unmet needs after going through their insurance and FEMA. 
People have donated “everything under the sun” to the church including clothes, furniture and food which the church wants victims to take whatever they need from the donations. 
“We just want to help them not have to spend their money on that type of stuff because rebuilding is going to be so expensive for them,” Cada said. “That's our focus right now is just to provide the things that we can so that they can save their funds.” 
The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is located at the church at 2146 Wright St. and can assist victims applying for federal aid. FEMA spokesperson Tiana Suber said they don’t have a set timeline of when they plan to leave Washington County but will stay as long as needed. The center has assisted at least 130 victims, according to FEMA task force leader Maurice Humpries. 
FEMA can assist victims with home repairs, temporary housing, property damage, child care, medical, lodging, moving and funeral expenses if not fully covered by insurance. Anyone impacted by the tornado is encouraged to apply for aid online at or call FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362). 
Cada said there isn’t a shortage of those willing to help or donations but the church’s biggest challenge is getting people to ask for aid. 
“Everyone, especially in Nebraska in the Midwest, we don't want to be on that side of the coin taking help,” Cada said. “Everybody who comes in and says oh, I don't want to take it from someone else who needs it. So my biggest challenge has been convincing them that it's okay and that they can take whatever they need and we want them to do that.” 
Cada encourages those who want to help out to contact the church to see what they need.