by Rebecca French Smith
Let me tell you a story.
It’s a crisp spring morning on a dirt cattle lot along a rural Missouri highway. Gooseneck trailers are piled high with round bales of hay. Other trailers are loaded down with fencing posts and wire, waterers and feeders, protein blocks and tubs. Faint chatter can be heard as men and women finish strapping down supplies, checking in and getting food for the road. A quick prayer is said, and the convoy is on its journey west.
This was the scene recently just south of Belle, Mo., where 35 truck and trailer loads were staged for a trip to Kansas where wildfires ravaged more than one million acres across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. People lost loved ones. Farms were decimated. Livestock killed. Barns and homes gutted. Forages and pastures left in cinders. Lifetimes spent building farms and businesses ruined. It is, as some have called it, a Katrina-like event for those affected, and this trip was a drop in the bucket of the help needed.
In the immediate days following a tragic event like this, there is a rush of help and news coverage. Interestingly, however, this story seemed like only a small blip on the national news media radar. As the weeks go by, the story has disappeared there, replaced by White House missteps and airline behavior gone bad. But, those suffering in the wildfire aftermath are still trying to pick up the pieces. We cannot forget them.
Missouri Farm Bureau is serving as a clearinghouse for people wanting to make contributions for the wildfire relief efforts, helping make certain the assistance is getting to where it is needed. The number to call to make contributions is 573-893-1468 or go to the website www.mofb.org<http://www.mofb.org>. Missouri Farm Bureau’s role is not to replace but rather support the many local community relief efforts underway.
At the end of the morning in Belle, perhaps convoy organizer Jimmy Zumwalt said it best. “They need a lot of help. … it’s going to take America to do it.” We’re focusing on Missouri.