First responders convene in the parking lot of St. Patrick’s parish in Elkhorn immediately following the April 26 tornadoes that destroyed and damaged dozens of homes there.

Living Mercy

Tornado victims and those looking to help turn to Elkhorn parish

St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn has been a hub of relief, compassion and support ever since an April 26 tornado devastated the northwest Omaha community it serves.

Immediately after the tornado hit, the parish became a law enforcement command post and a place where residents could be united with loved ones.

In the following days, St. Patrick became a place where tornado victims could find any kind of help they needed: cleanup materials, food, water, gift cards, spiritual support and more.

The tornado damage in the Elkhorn area was “pretty awful,” said Father Tom Fangman, pastor. “There’s lots and lots of houses gone.”

“We’re getting tons of people stopping by every day,” he said. “We’re trying to just meet immediate needs with our outreach here.” 

That outreach will continue as long as needed, he and other parish leaders have said.

St. Patrick has been coordinating with other organizations to best serve people in need. Parish volunteers serve as care managers for families, collecting and delivering supplies and arranging help. The care managers are a “one-point contact for the family,” said Mandy Busch, pastoral care minister at St. Patrick, so people aren’t “overwhelmed with a lot of people and a lot of calls.”

Needs seem to vary day to day, Father Fangman said, and have included gloves, plastic storage bins, chainsaws, clothing, toiletries, furniture and moving help.

Most helpful now might be gift cards and financial donations, he said.

Anyone needing assistance or looking for ways to help should refer to the parish’s website. Gift cards and monetary donations can be dropped off at the parish office, 20500 West Maple Road in Elkhorn, or during a Sunday Mass offertory collection.

Donations of clothing can be made to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Patrick said it will continue to help those impacted by the tornado, for as long as needed.

“We’re here for the long run,” Busch said, whether that’s three months, six months or a year from now.


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