Take one day at a time

May 30, 2013

Click here to listen to a conversaton with Rev. Catie Newman about the flooding in Northwest Iowa and the disaster recovery response.  (Recorded May 30, 2013)

“You just have to take one day at a time and do what you can today and don’t get too excited about it” explained the Rev. Catie Newman, the Northwest District Disaster Response Coordinator. 

As of Thursday, May 30,  “We have a huge area of our District, from Le Mars, the Floyd River, all the way east past the Little Sioux and the Maple…everything is out of its banks,” she said.  “The hardest hit are households - probably Cherokee and Storm Lake.  In Storm Lake there are over 2000 homes with water in them.  In Cherokee we’re hearing that there are 350 homes with significant water in them.  We have homes in Orange City and lots of other places with water.  We have two pastors with water in their homes and we’re working with both of them.”

The disaster response was immediate.  “As of this afternoon we’ve delivered 500 cleanup buckets” Rev. Newman said.  “There have been many people doing the driving and delivering.  It’s really been wonderful to be able to hand those buckets to people who need them right now…and we had them to give them.”

She described how the buckets were so readily available.  “After the 2011 flooding of the Missouri River we thought that there would be more households affected than there were.  We had lots of flood buckets here.  With the approval of the district superintendent, we rented a storage unit to store what wasn’t needed at the time.  We knew that when the need arises you have to have the buckets right now.  We had 100 of them here.  There were 33 pallets of them, just about 1000 of them, stored down in Sydney.  We handed out that first 100 on the first day.  Two volunteers went down and picked up 500 more.”

With weather reports calling for continuing rain and thunderstorms, flooded face the prospect of an extended recovery.  “Many of the people who are cleaning out their basements know full well that when it rains hard tonight they are going to have water in them again.  We are really in a wait and hold pattern to get through this next chunk of heavy rain and then people will be able to finish drying out their basements and then go forward with whatever needs to be done in the basements…the drywall or the dehumidifiers or whatever is going to be needed.”

Even with the continuing rains “Some people have already started to clean out. You need to do that because you don’t want that to sit too long.  You don’t want mold and sitting water for too long.”

Rev. Newman had particular praise for Rev. Magrey de Vega who “has done an amazing job in Cherokee.  He was there three years ago when they flooded.  He’s a very calm man.  That has really made a difference.  His church has faced the situation knowing what they have to do.  People have kept calm – you don’t have to crisis on top of the crisis of the weather.”

What can people do to help with the flood response?  “We are inviting people to make clean up buckets, or provide the parts for cleanup buckets” she said, adding “on June 23 we will be having a workday at that storage unit to clean out, see what we have, and then make up buckets out of what we have so that there are more ready to go.”