The impacts of COVID-19 on smaller communities

Posted at 11:05 PM, Apr 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 00:05:24-04

DAVID CITY, Nebraska (KMTV) — Whether you live in a bigger city like Omaha, or a small community, coronavirus has caused lots of changes. David City, in Butler County, is one of those places.

There's concern for small businesses, and their local economy. But the hope that everything will be OK in the future remains strong.

"I don't think anyplace is immune to this or not impacted," said Kelcie Keeling of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce. "The month that it's been has been very trying at times."

Keeling says David City hasn't slowed down as much as places like Omaha, but like more prominent cities, there's a concern for small businesses.

"The general consensus I'm hearing from a lot of businesses, is how long is this going to last and will be recover from this," said Keeling.

Some places have closed their doors for now, while others have cut their hours. But for some, a large number of phone calls are painting a very different picture.

"We offer curbside pickup, and the phones have been ringing off the hook," said Erin Hotovy, Store Manager at Ace Hardware.

The store now has shields at the counter and signs throughout the store, reminding people of social distancing.

"We don't have a lot of options, so to me, it's important that we stay open and try to protect people as well as we can," said Hotovy.

Another place that's been busy is local grocery stores. That demand has caused Brenda Lenz, Co-Owner of Dale's Food Pride, to offer not only curbside pickup of groceries but also free delivery for their older customers.

"If they feel like they shouldn't be in the store where there's a crowd, we want to be able to make sure they have what they need," said Lenz.

Like many other places, schools have closed, which is causing issues for local food distribution organizations that relied on them being open.

"Different organizations from the schools would collect for us, and so they would bring us maybe canned goods or personal hygiene items that people could use, so our shelves are almost empty, and so is our freezer," said Louise Niemann of the Butler County Rural Food Connection.

A recent financial gift will help refill those shelves, but concern remains the longer this goes on. Still, many are optimistic about the future of this smaller community.

"Small towns are pretty good at lifting each other up, and I think that they probably have a good sense of what the needs of the community are," said Lenz.

"As a Nebraskan, we are resilient, and we will get through this as long as everybody just follows the guidelines and really takes it seriously," said Keeling.

If you live in Butler County and are in need of food, contact the United Methodist Church at 402-367-3494.