HARTINGTON — The kindness of strangers does not go unnoticed in rural Nebraska.
Some Hartington area residents discovered that first-hand Thursday when Adam Turpin and his parents, Mike and Melody Turpin, drove two-and-half hours from their home in Bassett to thank staff at the Historic Hotel Hartington and present a check.
Turpin was a member of the Rock County speech team competing at the District Speech meet in Hartington last March.
Rock County was one of four schools stranded in Hartington for two days when the floods began to wash across Nebraska March 13.
Rock County, Boyd County, West Holt and Central Valley all hunkered down in Hartington, while Neligh-Oakdale headed to Yankton and Elkhorn Valley booked rooms in Wayne to wait out the storm.
Community members rallied together to help the students find places to stay and to help provide them with entertainment.
The hotel staff did everything they could to make the kids feel at home.
Those efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
“We pretty much had it figured out before we left town that we were going to do something to say ‘thank you,’” said Turpin, who will be a senior at Rock County High School this fall.
The speech students put together a fundraiser by selling concessions at the District Track Meet in Basset in May. They raised just over $900, which they gave to the hotel to thank the community and to help them defray some of the costs they accrued while housing all those students for two nights.
The hotel, and the people in Hartington did everything they could to make a bad situation better, Melody Turpin said.
“As a parent, when they said they’d be stuck here, we worried about all kinds of things. They didn’t bring any extra clothes or food. They weren’t prepared to spend the night,” Melody Turpin said.
It didn’t take her long to figure out the kids were fine, though.
“Adam started texting me pictures of all the food people were bringing them,” she said. “Then I knew everything was fine.”
Melody Turpin said she is incredibly grateful that if something like this had to happen, it happened in Hartington.
“I just couldn’t believe how everybody chipped in to help out,” she said. “You guys were dealing with your own disaster here and you took time out to help us. We were having a blizzard back home and you guys were dealing with a flood here.”
There are a lot of big-hearted people in this little town, she said.
“It is only fitting the town of Hartington has the word heart in it,” she said. “If this would have happened in a bigger town ... I could just imagine if this would have happened in Lincoln or Omaha. It might have been, “Oh, too bad. You guys are out on the street.’ Not here though.”