Buffalo Bills offensive linemen Jeremiah Sirles and Spencer Long were eating lunch Monday with Sirles’ wife, Emma, when the former Nebraska Cornhuskers teammates decided they needed needed to take action.
Flooding that Nebraska’s governor called “the most widespread destruction we have ever seen in our state’s history” had caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to farms, displaced families and destroyed property.
No longer wanting to remain spectators to the natural disaster occurring worst in the northern part of the state, Sirles and Long have organized a dinner for Thursday night in Schuyler, Nebraska that will provide relief to both first responders and those affected in hard-hit Colfax county.
— Spencer Long (@slong_61) March 19, 2019
Aside from water restrictions because of a broken levee, Sirles and his wife have escaped the brunt of the flooding in their Lincoln, Nebraska home that they share with Long during the NFL offseason. Similarly, Long’s family home in the Omaha suburb of Elkhorn sits on high ground and was largely spared.
Other nearby communities were not as lucky. Family friends of Long suffered flooding three-quarters up the walls of their house and sustained damage to their dog kennel. Neighbors lost horses to the floodwaters, and others slung suitcases onto airboats to escape.
“It’s the real deal out here,” Long said Wednesday. “I don’t think the nation really understands what’s going on out here.”
Sirles opened Snapchat on Tuesday to find a photo of cinder blocks that a college friend declared all that was left of his trailer home. Friends in Sirles’ bible study group had parents’ houses washed away.
“It’s a mess, man,” Sirles said Wednesday. “You don’t see a lot of it on national media. People aren’t seeing it.”
A friend of Sirles’ in a hard-hit area suggested the most immediate aid to those affected would be a recharge. That spawned the idea for Thursday’s dinner, which the two Bills linemen hope will not only feed those in need of a meal but also lift their spirits. Hy-Vee, a local grocery store, has also offered assistance.
“Me and Spencer are so blessed to have the ability to have a platform like this and go out and do something like this,” Sirles sad. “It is special to us because this is where we call home and it feels like a responsibility to let’s take care of our own.”
ATTN Nebraskans: A special dinner is planned for first responders, law enforcement, volunteers, victims, and the surrounding community. Special thanks to Colfax County for helping set this up. Please check out the details below and spread the word! We are #NEBRASKASTRONG pic.twitter.com/MwWaKKXXuB
— Jeremiah Sirles (@Sirles71_HSKR) March 19, 2019
Sirles, who re-signed with the Bills in January after joining the team last September, and Long, who signed with Buffalo in February, train together in the offseason. They consider Thursday’s event as the first step in their process to help Nebraska recover.
“We whipped this up pretty fast,” Long said. “Our goal from this is to come up with something better when we get together with people, start talking and figure out a way that we can [help], whether it’s donating supplies or money or something. That’s kind of in the works right now. We’re gonna figure that out.”