RUSSELL COUNTY, Kan (KSNW) – The recovery continues in the small Kansas town of Paradise. Some said the devastation is unimaginable.
At least 400,000 acres burned, and with those fires, the livelihoods of many were impacted.
“With the tears that flown down on streams down our face for the last three days. It’s been, it’s been very emotional, very emotional,” said Joleen Lawson, Russell County.
Many cattle were burned alive in the fire.
“Our cattle made it through. Our horses, we actually lost six. We lost two the first night, and then, the following morning, we had to put down four additional, and then, we loaded the trailer with five severely burned and injured horses, and we took them to the K-State Veterinary facility,” said Lawson.
“When we made it into the town of Paradise itself, there’s homes smoldering. You knew that was bad going south out of town was probably the hardest thing to see, which were the cattle that had been burned alive essentially lining the road for a quarter of a mile,” said Jonathan Petremala, an independent journalist.
Petremala covers disasters around the country and made his way to Kansas. He said ranchers who lost everything still focused on their livestock.
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“The fact is the next morning when we were speaking with ranchers, they were there again wearing the same clothes, the only clothes that they now have, trying to bring whatever comfort they could to the animals that they knew were still alive that were needing water that was needing feed, because again, they put their animals above their own self,” said Petremala.
Donations of time and resources continue to pour into the community.
“It really gives me faith in mankind because people come down the driveway and say we’re just driving by, and we just wanted to see what you need it,” said Lawson.
But some said government aid would be necessary.
“This is a disaster, and we do need governmental help. Big time. Big time. The losses. You know everybody’s coming together and working really hard, but let me tell you, there’s a lot of devastation,” said Lawson.
Volunteers said they still need many donations for the wildfire victims as it’s going to take a while for insurance and permanent solutions to be accessible. In addition, they need clothes, nonperishable foods, fencing equipment, hay and animal feed, water, snacks, health products, baby products, and toys.
The Emergency Conservation Program helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and to help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. The ECP does this by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland or to install methods for water conservation.
USDA Service Centers are designed to be a single location where farmers and others can access the services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies.