Woman buys out shoe store to help flood victims


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Several Midwestern states are reeling from historic flooding which hit the area a few weeks ago.

Thousands of people have been evacuated, and vast swathes of farmland has been destroyed.

For many in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota the recovery effort has been slow and painful, as people return to their homes.

As images of submerged farms were broadcast across the country, many looked for ways to help.

Here are some of the acts of kindness to emerge in the wake of the devastation.

‘Any shoes are better than wet shoes’

When Addy Tritt, 25, noticed her local discount shoe shop was closing down she decided to buy out their entire stock.

Ms Tritt then donated the 204 pairs of shoes, valued at $6,000 (£4,555), to families affected by the floods.

“I wanted them to go to people who actually needed them,” Ms Tritt told CBS News.

After spending two hours negotiating with the the shop’s head office, Ms Tritt paid just $100 (£76) for the entire stock.

Of Ms Tritt’s haul, 162 pairs were baby shoes, two were men’s shoes and the rest were women’s, according to the the Associated Press.

“Any shoes are better than wet shoes,” Ms Tritt said. “If people feel lost, they should try volunteering and donating. It gives me such fulfilment and I want others to feel the way I do.”

The shoes were part of a shipment to Nebraska farmers organised by a local student agricultural group.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said farmers were some of the worst affected by “the most widespread destruction we have ever seen in our state’s history”.

‘Island hopping in Nebraska!’

With many roads in the region made impassable by floodwater, some volunteers took to the skies to rescue stranded residents.

Adam Marshall, has been a private pilot for three years, and when he started to receive calls for help from people trapped in the nearby town of Fremont he fired up his small propeller plane.

Mr Marshall told CNN that he has made more than 30 trips, and described it as “island hopping in Nebraska”.

“My phone just started blowing up, and I told my wife, ‘I think I’m going to be gone for a couple of days’.”

“I transported the entire Midland University dance team to Omaha so they wouldn’t miss their commercial flight and a woman named Allie who has five kids and had been cut off from her family,” he said.

Surrounded by rising floodwaters, Gary Fouraker was rushed to hospital after doctors suspected he had blood clots in his lungs.

However, there was no room for his wife Marcia to travel with him in the helicopter.

“I’ve never been scared like I was [at that point]”, Ms Fouraker told CNN. “The roads weren’t open.”

Mr Marshall came to her rescue, delivering Ms Fouraker to her husband’s bedside an hour later.

“I just really admire the way he, and so many other pilots, have really stepped up to help people,” Ms Fouraker said.

“Most people had a look of relief when they got a ride,” Mr Marshall reflected. “I got a lot of hugs the last few days!”

‘I’ve never escorted hay’

Derek Jilek, from North Dakota, knew he wanted to help when he saw photos of flooded farms across the Midwest.

He posted on Facebook calling on his “farm and ranch neighbours” to donate a few hay bales to those who had been hit by the floods.

Vast swathes of farmland was destroyed by the floodwater, and many farmers have struggled to feed their livestock.

What started as a small effort to collect donations, turned into a nine truck convoy carrying thousands of dollars worth of farming supplies and equipment.

“I guess when you’re helping or volunteering, I always heard that you do what you know. We know cows and we know trucking, so that’s what we did,” Mr Jilek told local news station WOWT.

The convoy received a police escort for part of the 600 mile (965km) journey, with a new police department taking over as the trucks crossed county boundaries.

Sgt Dan Kensinger, from the Stark County Sheriff’s Department, said, “This was new to me. We’ve done funeral escorts and various other things. I’ve never escorted hay.”


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