When a natural disaster strikes a community, there are no strangers.
"It's important to help out everybody," Arlington High School junior Remington Gay said. "So, when something bad happens to somebody in the family, you go help. That's what I hope everybody learns from this."
Gay is just one of the examples of the hundreds of volunteers stepping up to help their neighbors clean up from historic flooding in the area earlier this month.
Gay and fellow high schooler Gus Duarte and AHS alumni Max and Stacey Nelson, Abbie Kempcke, Nicole Stotz and Kari and Matt Slattery, assisted residents at Emerson Estates in Fremont in cleaning up their community last weekend. Family friends Laura and Jason Griffis own the lake area and rental houses on that property, Remington's mother, Jennifer, said.
"It's sad because a lot of people lost everything," Gay said. "It just feels good to try and give them a little bit of hope."
Gay was also happy to see AHS alumni join in the effort.
"It was really sweet that they are helping out," he said.
In Arlington, AHS graduate Dillon O'Flaherty and his fraternity brothers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Sigma Alpha Epsilon, also pitched in to help clean Bell Creek Park on Thursday.
On spring break last week, O'Flaherty said he wanted to find a way to give back to his hometown and after several of his fraternity brothers volunteered to help, he contacted the village.
The assistance was welcome, and much needed, as cornstalks and other debris were scattered across the park.
"We're glad somebody contacted us and asked 'How can we help?'" Village board Chairman Paul Krause said. "It's nice to know we've got people from this town that want to give back and even if they are not here, they are thinking about what they can do to help because having this many kids here today doing stuff is a big help for us."
O'Flaherty said he has a lot of friends in the Arlington community who have been impacted, so he wanted to find a way to help. He was also glad to see his fraternity brothers step up to help.
"I'm super proud of these guys," he said. "None of them are from here, so I'm really proud of them for showing up and helping out because they don't have a reason they have to be here, this is all on their own. They could be out doing whatever with their spring break, yet they are taking a full day to help out.
In all, eight members assisted with clean up, which included scraping mud off the floor of the park shelter.
Joe Carlson, a graduate of Omaha's Skutt Catholic High School, said it's been surreal to see images from the flooding, especially when they are in your home state.
"I just wanted to lend a hand and do anything I can to help," he said. "It's a tough thing people are going through."
Jake Sorensen, a 2017 Blair High School graduate, is also proud of his fraternity brothers who stepped up.
"It shows what kind of brotherhood we have," he said.
Drew Pflug, a DC West graduate, said he and the others were ready to lend a hand when news of the flood damage came their way.
"We were eager to come help," he said. "We are hoping to help in other areas, probably go to Valley."
Gay is also planning a return to Fremont to assist more people with flood cleanup. He's hoping to recruit more students from AHS to help out.
How to help
The Arlington Community Fund has set up a disaster relief fund in response to the recent flooding in the Arlington area. Because of the Arlington Community Fund's affiliation with the Fremont Area Community Foundation, all donations are tax deductible. Donations can be made online with a credit card or checks made payable to Arlington Disaster Relief can be dropped off at Two Rivers Bank or mailed to the Arlington Community Fund c/o Fremont Area Community Foundation, 1005 E. 23rd Street, Suite 2, Fremont, NE 68025. For more information, visit www.facfoundation.org/arlingtonfloodrelief.html
As of Monday, $3,423 has been donated to the relief effort, which included $443 collected during the Arlington High School musical on March 22 and 23.