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It will take years for Kansans to recover from December's wildfires

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Russell County rancher Rich Koester sits on his four-wheeler with his dog Gibbs. David Condos Kansas News Service..jpg
David Condos
Kansas News Service
Russell County rancher Rich Koester sits on his four-wheeler with his dog Gibbs

Farmers and ranchers in 13 Kansas counties are struggling to find resources to repair and rebuild their operations.

The grasslands in central Kansas were already dry on December 15 when a record-breaking windstorm swept across the state taking down power lines and driving the fires that sparked across multiple counties in the state.

The speed of the wildfires made them difficult to get ahead of for firefighters, wildlife, and livestock.

Recovery from these fires is going to extend well past the current news cycle. Reporter David Condos expresses how some ranchers and farmers have lost homes, cattle and equipment leaving a number of them with nothing but their burnt land.

"I've been through it a lot over the years," says Rich Koester, a rancher from Russell County, citing droughts and blizzards that have affected his pasture in the past. "Gotta go with the flow and do the best job you can, and that's all you can do."

Koester says he is unsure what the recovery may look like for him heading into the spring. He says some federal service agencies are making resources available to help, but a key step is finding those programs in the first place.

If you're looking to help those affected by the wildfires, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has set up a recovery resources hub that includes links for donating.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.