The devastating flood that hit Nebraska and Iowa and caused more than $3 billion in damage this spring was met with an overwhelming and immediate response by the UNMC community.

"The flood hit our agricultural community in a most profound way," said Ellen Duysen, outreach specialist for the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at UNMC's College of Public Health. "It was only natural that we reacted quickly."

CS-CASH personnel quickly identified the health and safety issues that face farmers and ranchers in the flood clean-up stage:

grain bins; programs and resources for stress and mental wellness; well recovery; chemical cleanup; animal hazards; and equipment hazards.

A webinar also was created and Duysen was a guest on "Consider This" on Nebraska Educational Television.

"I was so impressed to see our huge organization come together so quickly and work for a common cause," she said. "It makes me grateful to be part of the UNMC community."

Now, CS-CASH is working on a new pilot project to develop effective farm and ranch crisis communication plans and best practices for farm and ranch recovery following a flood event.

"We'll develop evacuation plans for people and animals, discuss which buildings would be most affected and what farm paperwork should be kept easily accessible. Well contamination was a big issue during this flood event. If well pumps had been shut off, it would have eliminated a lot of contamination. This is an example of information that should be distributed before a disaster hits," Duysen said.

"We'll talk with farmers and ranchers about their experiences and how they would do things differently. There will be a next time and we want to be better prepared."