Courtesy photo
Tye Bloom posted this photo on Facebook following Storm Ulmer. The family lost over 30 head of new-born calves.
Courtesy photo Tye Bloom posted this photo on Facebook following Storm Ulmer. The family lost over 30 head of new-born calves.

 


By Colleen Brunner


Russ and Annette Bloom, of Scotia, Nebraska, are just one family of thousands, who are suffering through the aftermath of what has been labeled Storm Ulmer. This system, which was called a bombogenesis storm with cyclone like 90 mph winds moved into the Midwest dumping snow and freezing rain. And then the flooding came.

The Blooms, who have been farming and ranching in the Scotia area for at least three generations, have not had to evacuate, but they are dealing with a big loss. At least 32 newborn calves have been lost and possibly more will fall to the stress of the storm.

Scotia, a small town of 300+ people, is 50 miles north of Grand Island, in the eastern part of the state. The Bloom’s farm is near Wallace Creek, which feeds into the North Loup river. As the rains came, son Tye says he could watch the water rise. And even though the family had worked to make sure their livestock was safe, it turned out they weren’t safe enough.

Tye and his wife Samantha are typical of young farming and ranching people, working at jobs outside the farm, with their heart remaining in their agricultural roots. The family plants corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They run around 250 head of Angus cow/calf pairs.

“The one plus about this is that the pastures should be really nice and the dams are full,” says Tye. He says that with the exception of 2018, they had several years of drought-type weather. He laughed about the flooding being like drinking from a fire hose. 

“It’s hard when something like this happens and there’s really not much you can do,” says the young farmer.

Bloom says the storm pushed the cattle from the north side of the area where they had them sheltered to the south side. “We found one calf about a half mile away.”

The family started calving around Valentine’s day, so the calves were still young, under 100 pounds. Russ Bloom says this is a pretty bad loss, not just for his family, but the entire Midwest. His own recovery will take more than a year, losing 32 head of what would have been worth around $500 each when sold. 

“I was just talking with my banker today about what we can do,” says Bloom. “It will take a while. We aren’t done calving yet, but losing that many in one big shot is pretty hard to swallow.”

Bloom says he had talked to others around, and many shared their losses, one with 70 head and another losing 40 calves. And many others in the area, like friends John and Jason Stam, are in the same situation. 

“Other generations have suffered worse,” says Bloom. “Overall, we’re gonna come together. It’s gonna be tough, psychologically and physically. At most we would lose only 12 calves on a bad year. It’ll hurt the local economy.”

Bloom says it’s okay in his mind that the national media is not really paying much attention to the disaster.

“The people who care, are,” he says. Many organizations are in the process of moving in to help, and a home-built organization of volunteers has been put together with online contact via Facebook at Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa Flooding Alert. The group has been fielding offers of volunteer help and supplies, and routing them to where they are needed most. Just Sunday night, the town of Fremont, which had been totally surrounded by flood waters, was finally able to get truck loads of food and fuel through, thanks to the Nebraska DOT. 

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has declared the state a disaster emergency, and funds to help rebuild may be available. But that is somewhere in the hazy future. 

Meanwhile the Bloom family, along with thousands of others who are suffering through this disaster, will do what they always do. They’ll pull their boots on and head out the door to another day. And while they’re at it, they’ll look for ways to help their neighbors as well.

“I’m okay with staying a ‘fly-over’ state,” says Bloom. He says they have what they need with the help of those who don’t wait, but step in to help out of the goodness of their heart.