I’ve been here in Iowa for a few days now, working with the American Red Cross in disaster relief. Residents in the Cedar Rapids area — and beyond — have so many needs as a result of the recent storms and flooding, and it is a privilege to be able to serve the good people of Iowa on behalf of Red Cross donors everywhere.
The damage is vast, and for those whose homes have been flooded it is devastating. Baby pictures, cherished family heirlooms, important papers and records…all of these and more were destroyed in the flood waters.
I flew into Cedar Rapids from Indiana early in the week. Nothing prepared me for the piles of furniture, building materials and belongings being removed from houses and businesses. Many people are not only without homes, they’re without transportation — so many vehicles were trapped in the water no one believed would rise to the levels it did.
Housing needs are at a critical level, many people are unemployed due to the disaster, lives have been lost… and yet Iowans are a tough lot. People are busy clearing out damaged homes, cleaning salvaged items, and doing what they can to tackle the inevitable mold that follows floodwater. Those whose homes were totally destroyed are searching for places for their families to live.
My part is a tiny one in the relief effort. I am only one caseworker working with one client at a time. And there are so many clients! They line up for hours with their children, their parents, and clutching their few salvaged belongings in a bag. The days are long and the needs great. I treasure each and every hug I get from a grateful Mom, each warm handshake from a tired Dad, and each shy smile from a bewildered child.
Your donation is needed more than ever. I’m asking you to do two things — make a donation to the Red Cross here or at your local Red Cross chapter, and stop for a moment in your busy day today to think about the thousands of people in the central U.S. trying to take the first steps in rebuilding their lives.
I’m due to fly home to Atlanta in early July. It will be wonderful to spend time with my family and to sleep in my own bed. I’ll try to post another update in a few days.