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Northeast Ohio farmers provide aid to Kansas farmers affected by wildfires

Ohio farmers use social media to coodinate effort
Posted at 10:28 PM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 12:01:46-04

Northeast Ohio farmers Daniel Duma and Sarah Birtch are just two of the dozens of Ohio farmers who are giving a wide variety of resources to help Kansas ranchers victimized by massive wildfires, which roared through Kansas earlier this month.

A significant part of the aid is being coordinated by Ohio Kansas Ranchers Wildfire Relief Efforts, which used its Facebook page and its blog to rally Ohio farmers, and report on need and progress.

The fires reportedly destroyed more than 400,000 acres, killed thousand of livestock, and stripped hundreds of families of their livelihoods.

Duma and Birtch were part of a group of farmers who made the 17-hour drive to Ashland Kansas, from Duma Meats in Mogadore Ohio.

Birtch said the fire damage and the sense of loss were unimaginable.

"It was just very devastating, you know, you felt sick to your stomach," said Birtch.

"And then as soon as we got there, we look over the hill and it's all brown and black, and completely destroyed."

Duma told News 5 damage to Kansas farms will likely take two years to completely repair.

"It was hard just to kind of hold the tears back," said Duma.

"It was just a big group effort that made this whole thing happen."

Duma praised the effort of social media in inspiring so many people to get involved and said he was stunned by the outpouring of assistance.

Northeast Ohio farmers provided supplies, badly needed hay, donations, and countless volunteer hours.

Both Duma and Birtch said many volunteers, from more than 40 Ohio counties, were met with tears of appreciation.

"They were very, very thankful," said Birtch.  "They just kept saying you have no idea what you're doing for us, you have no idea."

Duma said much more help is needed. Donations can be made to the Kansas Ashland Community Foundation webpage.

Duma said 100 percent of those donations go directly to Kansas farmer relief.

"It's not too late to help out those ranchers down there, it's going to take a couple years just get everything re-fenced and redeveloped," said Duma.

"I'm already planning a second trip to Kansas, the farmers there can sure use all the help they can get."