Badge System Helps Track Tornado Clean Up Volunteers


Around 1,700 volunteers checked in and out of town in the first four days after a tornado went through Beaver Crossing. Emergency response officials say keeping track of their numbers and hours used to be a tedious job done on pen and paper, but a badge system is changing that.

The Beaver Crossing Fire Hall sounds like a supermarket with beeps and scans, but the Nebraska Resource Accountability Team isn’t scanning retail items.

“We have a badging system that we use when people come on scene, we make them a badge and then we scan them in,” says Deanna Beckman, the NRAT lead in Beaver Crossing and Dakota County Deputy Emergency Manager.

The badging system is still fairly new, getting its first natural disaster use after Wayne’s tornado last year.

Before volunteers leave town, they check out, which lets officials know how long they were helping or if anyone is missing.

The data will help Beaver Crossing when it comes time to get disaster funding too.

“It helps with paperwork for the officials - the city officials, elected officials at the end of the incident, it helps them count the hours and the manpower of what we’re doing,” says Beckman.

And many hours have been put in already. Agencies are bringing aid, and the National Guard has been deployed for security, plus volunteers like students from nearby Southeast Community College in Milford who came to pitch in.

“To know that a tornado came through here, it can just take not too long and it does all this damage is just incredible,” says volunteer Christian Crosby.

“You never know what can happen or when it can happen,” says volunteer James Holder. “Knowing that if anything would happen, even though we’re right down the road, these guys would probably come help us out, too.”

Residents say they can never repay them.

“I saw the people helping here, so many – Red Cross, Salvation Army and other churches – they are just, it’s priceless, believe me, it’s priceless,” says Beaver Crossing resident Syed Hussain.

The latest update from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says volunteers are still needed starting Monday, May 19. To find out about helping, call the Seward County Emergency Management Office at 402-643-4722, or report directly to the fire hall in downtown Beaver Crossing.