Farmers and citizens gathered at Ramblers Roost Friday morning. A caravan left from Van Wert to take supplies to farmers in Nebraska. Above, a truck hauling hay joins the caravan. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Farmers and citizens gathered at Ramblers Roost Friday morning. A caravan left from Van Wert to take supplies to farmers in Nebraska. Above, a truck hauling hay joins the caravan. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT COUNTY – At about 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning, a caravan of more than 20 semis, trucks, and wagons loaded with hay and supplies left for eastern Nebraska. The caravan was headed for the tiny town of Ithaca with supplies loaded to help weather-stricken farmers save cattle and address other farm damage. The group of farmers met at Ramblers Roost Restaurant east of Van Wert and eventually followed a state patrol escort on to U.S. 30 headed west. The caravan originally planned to launch out on Wednesday but delayed the trip for two days because of an ongoing severe blizzard currently going in Nebraska.

With council from Van Wert County weather specialist Rick McCoy and other observations, the “go” was given to leave on Friday morning.

Much of the energy for the Nebraska outreach came from the listening ear of 20-year-old Lincolnview graduate Tristin Miller.

Miller eventually became one of the leaders of the effort.

“I heard several people say that they would like to do something to help those farmers,” said Miller. “I saw another group head out there. We were about ready to join up with them but it didn’t work out.”

Miller said that he sowed seeds for such an effort on Facebook. To his surprise, the positive response was overwhelming from individuals who gave donations, volunteered to assist with such a trip, and organize other matters concerning the journey.

A major portion of manpower for the caravan came from a joint effort between individuals in Van Wert and Paulding counties. Support from residents of both Paulding and Van Wert counties contributed huge amounts financially, goods such as cattle feed, and other items that would help support the trip.

Miller said the destination for the items came through personal contact of suffering individuals in the area of their destination.

“We learned that a lot of livestock had been lost by below zero weather, flooding and then the recent spring blizzards,” said Miller. “Things were so bad that they couldn’t get to the cattle or do anything about it.”

Miller said that assistance was provided by people as far away as Bowling Green, New Haven and Defiance.

“It really makes you feel good to help somebody out,” commented Brady Emans of Van Wert, who along with his father, Duane, were taking the trip together. “I’ve always liked helping people. When I found out that they had lost cattle and buildings, I knew that I wanted to get involved.”

Brady and his father were taking a load of hay to Nebraska.

“This has been a remarkable experience for me, to see the community reach out and everyone help each other,” said Miller. “This is so great to see.”

The group joined in a time of prayer and then boarded their vehicles and started west. It was anticipated that they would sleep in Iowa on Friday evening.