Remembering Atlas; PLUS: A Thank-You From SD Ranchers

Oct. 3, 2013 is a date ranchers in western South Dakota are not likely to forget. That’s the day a deadly blizzard swept across the plains, leaving tens of thousands of dead cattle and shattered livelihoods in its wake. The freak storm caught the area by surprise and many ranching families lost a lifetime of work in the course of that day.

Though my ranch wasn’t hit by the storm, I had many friends and family members impacted by winter storm Atlas, and I know the area is still recovering from the effects of that fateful blizzard. It was tough for those of us in the reporting business to listen to the heart-breaking stories these families had to tell.

 

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BEEF magazine provided extensive coverage of Atlas, and as the anniversary of the storm approaches, I thought I would recap some of our blogs, videos and photographs that we compiled after the storm.

Here are six worth checking out again:

1. Consumer Outreach Needed After Winter Storm Atlas

2. Video: South Dakota Ranchers Share Details After Atlas Blizzard

3. One Week Later; SD Rancher Provides A Post-Blizzard Report

4. Rancher Details “Gut-Wrenching” Pain From Cattle Lost In SD

5. Early Fall Blizzard Holds Lessons For Ranchers On Nature And Consumers

6. Gallery: Cattle Death Toll Rises As Atlas Blizzard Recovery Continues

I would also like to share a thank-you I and other media received on behalf of the South Dakota ranchers who suffered from Atlas. Here is their message:

As we near the one-year anniversary of winter storm Atlas, the ranching people and communities devastated by the storm would like to say “thank you” to everyone who rallied behind us and extended such kindness and generosity toward us over the course of the past year.

It is an indescribably humbling, blessed experience to be on the receiving end of such grace and giving as that which poured into western South Dakota and the surrounding area in the weeks and months following the storm. You have impacted our lives in the most powerful, positive way, restoring our faith in humanity and increasing our love and appreciation for our lifestyle and those we share it with.

To those who donated livestock or money to the cause, we did receive them but at times without the original donor’s name attached. As you likely know, there is no greater gift to a rancher than a good bred heifer or cow, and while we found it difficult to accept such a costly and incredible gift, they have made all the difference. The same can be said of the monetary donations that found their way to our mailboxes. We are the independent type, as you likely are, and we hold ourselves accountable for making it on our own. But, those dollars came at critical times for us and covered bills that would have been difficult to find funds for otherwise.

There are those who donated their craft to auctions to generate funds, the communities and individuals who organized and delivered amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, and those who took the time to write, call or email personal words of encouragement. There were the people who traveled to areas impacted to help rebuild following the storm, the businesses who donated their goods and services, and those who developed online resources to help both those impacted and those wishing to help.

This is only a smattering of the countless acts of kindheartedness executed on our behalf. A glimpse into the hours individuals, families and companies put into helping us make it through the effects of the storm. Because of these efforts we are going to make it, and if you didn’t hear it from someone personally, please take it from all of us – thank you! You have made a magnificent difference in our present and future success, and we thank God for each and every one of you who took the time to help us in your own way. While we hope to never have to repay the favor, we stand ready with the example you set in our minds eye should the time ever come. May God bless you and American agriculture.

Sincerely,

The ranching families and communities hit by winter storm Atlas in October 2013

I pray for the continued recovery to the ranching community, and I hope a storm of this severity is one we won't see again anytime soon. Winter will be here before we know it; how are you preparing for Mother Nature's most challenging season? 

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

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