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'We are on scene immediately': Omaha Rapid Response's role in tornado recovery

Posted at 7:37 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 20:37:42-04

As of Friday, we learned all the memorabilia and personal belongings found in neighborhoods will go to Bethany Lutheran Church, starting Saturday, May 4.
The work started immediately, with the team setting up command at Relevant Church by Saturday morning.

"We are on scene immediately, we don't need a disaster declaration to begin doing some actions and it's all free, it's a non-profit that does this without any cost to anyone,” said Felix Ungerman, acting director for Omaha Rapid Response’s mission here.

The Omaha Rapid Response team has coordinated thousands of volunteers who have jumped in to help clean, find valuables, remove debris and more.

"We have had over 6,000 volunteers just in 5 days worth of effort," Ungerman said.

"The important thing that we try to do is, do whatever the victims want done or not want done, we don't want them to have an emotional experience, that is. Causing more problems than we are trying to solve," Ungerman said.

Ungerman has been leading this response, this is the first time he has worked with the organization and says communication has been key.

“People know Omaha Rapid Response, so they kind of come to us and say ‘Hey we know you guys, we know what you are going to be doing, I just want you to know I am here doing this for the Douglas County Sheriff’s or the Omaha Police department,’ and they have been out here on scene the whole time, doing amazing work, and they let us know that they are going to be there to help us out," Ungerman said.

The Relevant Community Center has been the host for this operation, but on Friday at 5 p.m. that will change. The command center will shift to the parking lot of Bethany Lutheran Church.

Ungerman says the response of neighbors helping neighbors is what makes Nebraska, Nebraska.

"That is what the good life is, that's why I live in Nebraska, that's why I love Nebraska and that's why this is the good life," Ungerman said.

There is still a need for volunteers, for more information visit the Omaha Rapid Response website or search volunteer opportunities through the United Way of The Midlands volunteer page.

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