By Jennifer Deibel
Devastating flooding has rocked the states of Nebraska and Iowa for months. Record snowfall coupled with warm rains falling on the frozen ground set the perfect conditions for the historic flooding.
Catastrophic damage and lack of fresh drinking water means the need is great for help in the hardest hit communities. When Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was called for help, they were read to serve.
“[We] were ready to help in whatever way needed,” said Patty Kirchner, Arizona Disaster Relief associate state director. “Many responded and were organized into several Flood Recovery teams.”
Three flood recovery teams and two feeding teams were deployed, with the first team heading out on April 22. Team 1 worked in Fremont, Neb., helping clean and muck out the flooded area. The second team arrived on May 3 and finished clearing out Fremont before moving on to Glenwood, Iowa. Finally, on May 12, both teams 2 and 3 worked in the small town of Pacific Junction, Iowa.
“Pacific Junction … was completely under approximately nine feet of toxic flood water for three weeks,” Kirchner said. “The devastation is unbelievable, with mud and corn stalks two- to three-feet thick in some homes.”
The contamination was so great the teams had to wear Tyvek suits, facemasks and goggles to protect themselves from the noxious water and gases.
In all, 13 Arizonans served on the flood recovery teams, and while each team was designed to relieve the previous one, many workers stayed on to serve a second “tour.” The feeding teams supplied meals to our own relief teams as well as workers from other states who were helping out in the Glenwood area.
The flood teams, comprised of men and women ranging in age from 19 to 82, worked more than 1,200 hours and the feeding team put in almost 900 hours in the 18 days they served in Iowa.
Yet, Kirchner reminds us the job is far from done.
“The flooding is not over, and with more rivers moving toward the flood stage all over the middle of this country, we expect there will be much more work to do,” she said. “Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief will be ready if called.”
Update: As Portraits went to press, a flood recovery team from Arizona was serving in Fort Gibson, Okla.