Southern student organizing relief drive for Midwest farmers devastated by floods

Record flooding in the Midwest destroys hundreds of homes; Southern student starts a relief drive


“We have a truck to haul hay to Nebraska! We are working toward raising the money to get the hay out there. Help us reach our goal! All it takes just $20 from 154 people, between myself and our partners. Let’s be grateful for all our blessings and give back to send hope and help to ranchers who haven’t had as fortunate of a year. Think of the cows y’all! Visit Southern Rancher Relief Project for more info."

CLICK HERE for the donation page on Facebook

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Record flooding in the Midwest has destroyed hundreds of homes and devastated the region’s farmers. The economic loss in Nebraska alone is estimated at $1.4 billion. Help is coming in from all over the country, including from Baton Rouge.

“We can't survive without our ranchers or without our farmers, and if they suffer, we all suffer,” said Hilari Vargas.

Vargas is a first-year law student at Southern University with a background in agriculture. She’s partnered with Southern’s Ag Center to collect supplies for flood victims hundreds of miles away. At least one million acres of farmland went under water across nine states. Thousands of acres of pasture ground were also swamped.

PHOTO: Facebook
PHOTO: Facebook

“A lot of these livestock ranchers cannot get out to their pasture. A lot of their hay has been ruined from the floodwaters, been washed away. Some of them can never even get into their pasture again this year, or maybe not even for the next couple years,” explained R.J. Alderson, a volunteer on the ground in Nebraska.

Alderson is working with Vargas to coordinate the relief and get the right supplies to the right people. He said hay is coming in from all over the country to feed cattle, but there's another urgent need.

“Fencing supplies is the biggest need right now, which is barbed wire, fence posts, wooden posts, gates, that type of thing to build fence, because a lot of them were just completely wiped away and gone,” Alderson said.

Vargas is also collecting over-the-counter medical supplies for livestock. That includes things like Vetericyn, gauze, and wraps. Then there's the challenge of transporting all up those materials to the flood zone.

“We definitely need people to transport – preferably people with CDLs, semis, things like that, as well as people with trucks and trailers,” Vargas said.

Photo: WAFB
Photo: WAFB

The flooding may be out of sight for many people in Louisiana, but Southern professor Dr. Renita Marshall said the effects of the Midwest floods will eventually ripple across the country.

“When (people) go to the grocery store to buy food to cook for their families and nothing is there, the supply is low, or the prices are high because the demand is high, then there is an effect,” Marshall explained.

From the bayous to the Heartland, she and Vargas are trying to help farmers save their livelihoods. They want to return the favor after so many neighboring states contributed to relief efforts in Louisiana in 2016.

“They're a very proud people. They don't like asking for help. They'll be the first ones to take their shirt off their back to help someone else,” Alderson said.

“The way I was raised, when we need help in my family, we are all there for each other. When there's a loss, we come together, and we provide things for one another,” Vargas added.

If you can help, contact Vargas at 915-309-5068 or You can also send her a message on Facebook. She’ll be collecting supplies through the end of the month and then coordinating their delivery in Nebraska.

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