Thursday, November 27, 2008


With Thanks...As winter creeps in on Iowa, and cold weather tamps down most of our flood recovery, and as Thanksgiving approaches we have an opportunity to reflect on blessings, large and small, and give to, on behalf of the many Iowans you all have helped with gifts of money, flood buckets, cleaning materials, blankets, pampers, wheel barrows, and much, much, more, and those who were able to travel to Iowa and help with mucking out, yard clean-up, and rehabbing efforts, for your ongoing prayers and for your emails and phone calls of concern and offers to help, I thank you and give God thanks for you. There are also many who are not known to us, or at least me, who helped with gifts of money sent directly to Episcopal Relief and Development.

I am personally thankful for the wonderful, dedicated, hard working folks who coordinate flood relief and recovery in their local community and out of local parish churches. Folks like: Lisa Butler and Paul Feussel (Cedar Rapids), Maureen Doherty (Waverly and Cedar Falls), Liane Nichols (Cedar Falls) Katharine Nicholson and Anne Tanner (Iowa City/Coralville), Cathy Bascom (Des Moines) and Cathy Benkin (Louisa and Des Moines Counties). I am also thankful for the help and support of Abagail Nelson and her staff at Episcopal Relief and Development, and special thanks too, to all our friends from the Diocese of Louisiana: Nell Bolton who has been a wise counsel to me, and Connie Uddo, Pete Nunnally, and Katie Mears who came to Iowa and helped us jump start our work and ministry, and of course Bishop Alan Scarfe and the staff here in the Diocese of Iowa and all the parishes and congregations that responded to the "All Hands" weekends in July and who have supported this ministry with their donations and their presence.

Stories...There are so many stories I could tell from these past few months...and each of our local volunteer coordinators can tell you many, many more...I wish space would allow us to share these stories in full and how your generosity has touched so many lives...

Like Rusty in Waverly, Iowa...who not only lost his home, but has had to jump through hoop after governmental (local and federal) hoop, who has lost his job and is being threatened with foreclosure, but still he gives of himself to help others in need. And I wonder how many times his story is repeated around Iowa?

Or, like the Wilsons from Gulfport, IL who just these past few weeks or so have just started 'mucking out' after literally running from impending doom in mid-June! And yet, though they have lost just about everything they owned, are able to look around and consider themselves lucky since others lost much more.

Or, like Jim and Phyllis in Cedar Falls, who though facing many obstacles, like the loss of their small business, a motel converted into studio apartments catering to low income folks, and their own home's flood damage, are slowly rebuilding the motel so that their displaced residents can return 'home.' There is very little financial help for this family from FEMA or the state.

Unmet Needs...And then there are the stories of those who come under the heading of 'unmet needs,' hundreds of folks who lost their homes, jobs or businesses because of the flooding but don't qualify for government assistance because they were renters, or whose financial situation is such that they don't qualify for SBA or other one time this Fall these 'unmet needs' totaled somewhere around $18 million and its probably even more now.

In the days ahead...Just this week a Cedar Rapids city official estimated that losses in Linn County (Cedar Rapids) alone are in the billions. I was stunned, but if we focus on such a large picture we can become discouraged very quickly. So we are doing what we can as we can on a scale we feel will be most helpful...our future plans are:

1. The Shady Rest Motel...we are making the rehabbing of the Shady Rest Motel (see attachment) a special we can focus some resources (time and material) to help the owners but also bring home those who were displaced...

2. The Episcopal Tool Chest...we are putting together a tool trailer that volunteers who are helping with rehabbing can use next spring and summer...the trailer will have power tools, safety equipment, hammers, and other rebuilding tools and supplies, the trailer will be light enough so that most vehicles with a hitch can tow it to a work site...when we're done with it, we'll be happy to share it with others...

3. Financial support for local Long Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs)...we are using some of our funds to help local groups plan and execute their own recovery efforts...

4. "Helping Hands and Hearts" - our plan for a work week in Galveston, Texas assisting in Hurricane Ike recovery, scheduled for mid February 2009 (leaving Iowa around 11 Feb and returning at the end of the following week)...I have been in touch with Maggie Immler in Galveston and we're on her calendar, so look for more information in the next few weeks...

There are other things we are doing as well, like three congregations in the flooded areas preparing to offer their space for volunteer 'dormitories,' we are also now in the process of accepting volunteer offers of help for the Spring and Summer.

And so we keep at it, whittling away in any way we can, attempting to bring hope and to rebuild lives one dollar, one nail, one panel of sheet rock at a time. Your past help and interest is greatly appreciated. Any thing you can do in the days ahead will be gratefully received.

Again, on behalf of Iowans and the Diocese of Iowa, our thanks for all your support. May each of you and those you love have a blessed Thanksgiving and a Holy Advent.


Pat Genereux, Coordinator
The Diocese of Iowa Office of Disaster Relief and Recovery
and Episcopal Relief and Development: Midwest Flood Relief

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This is my first post for awhile. Lots of personal things plus doing flood coordinating and traveling and meeting with folks and spending time with Abigail Nelson from ERD (Episcopal Relief and Development) have been enough. So taking the advice of others, like Abigail, who do this work, you have to know when to "hold 'em and when to fold 'em." Everyone involved in disaster relief needs to pay attention to a kind of 'creeping stress,' that is, the kind of stress that occurs almost unawares as we do the good work we're doing and not paying attention to what may be happening to us physically, spiritually and emotionally.

At any rate...

It’s hard to believe that its been over six weeks since the first reports of massive flooding in Iowa. After those first emails from Wendy Abrahamson, then Maureen Doherty, others poured in as fast as the waters breached levees and begin destroying homes and businesses. From Waverly to Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, from Iowa City and Coralville to Oakville, Burlington and points south the lives of thousands of Iowans were plunged into the nightmare and chaos that some have been calling Iowa’s “Katrina.”

Out of this chaos rose a different kind of flood: a flood of fellow Iowans stepping up to help one another in those first hours and days of the devastation; a flood of phone calls from around the Episcopal Church with of help in the form of gifts of money and the presence volunteers. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) stepped in with an initial grant for flood victims and the folks from Louisiana called and offered their assistance in the persons of Katie Mears (an native Iowan working for the Diocese of Louisiana, rebuilding homes) and Peter Nunnerly, another staff person from Louisiana as well as any advice we wished to tap into.

Bishop Alan asked me to help with the coordination of flood relief efforts, especially from the many Episcopal volunteers from outside the Diocese and to work with ERD in continuing funding efforts. The Bishop asked the local coordinators to gather with Katie Mears, which we did at the end of June, in order to look at how we could work together and begin planning “All Hands” work days; the first of which was held on the Fourth of July weekend in Cedar Rapids. Others have been held in Cedar Falls/Waterloo area and just this past weekend in Des Moines and Iowa City. For information on the newly recreated Diocese of Iowa Office for Disaster Relief go to and under the flood banner click on: Flood Relief and Recovery Information.

The waters may have receded in most places but the needs of flood victims have not. However, to the surprise of many that is not universally true. Across the Mississippi from Burlington, what’s left of the village of Gulfport is still standing in water, but it is hoped that in the next week or so homeowners can began to go back to assess the damage. In other places, some families are still mucking out flood debris, removing damaged household items, salvaging what they can, or tearing out walls, duct work, and wiring while others are hoping to begin rehabbing. The hardest hit will probably not get any rebuilding started before the snow flies. In fact despite promises made by State and Federal agencies some forms of assistance, especially funding, may not happen as fast and as much as hoped for. I heard many groans of dismay at the news that Congress will not be taking up the issue of federal assistance for Iowa until after the summer recess.

Today’s (Aug 3) Des Moines Register reported on the story of Cedar Rapids resident, Patricia Jordan and her daughter. Patricia, who is also blind, lost her rented home to the flood waters. Patricia and her daughter may end up in a homeless shelter. Patricia, the Register reports, is going to have lots of company in her plight as the destruction of inexpensive housing in places like Cedar Rapids will be gone. The present state of the economy is going to make life even more difficult for these folks and those who lost jobs as a result of the flooding. The aid they receive will be minimal to nothing. Our sisters and brothers in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast know exactly what this means.

There is still a lot more to do. We will continue to keep you posted. Funds as well as helping hands are still very much needed. For information on making a donation and under the flood banner click on: Donations for Iowa Flood relief.

If you want to help by volunteering please contact volunteer coordinators (The Reverends Betsy Lee and Susanne Watson Epting) at:, and they will put you in touch with one of the local coordinators.

The Diocesan web page,, will lead you too more information and the latest news. We are working hard to keep everything updated and current.

Thank you all who have given of your time and treasure to help relieve the distress of those whose lives have been overcome by wind and water. Your grace-filled ministry and work offers hope and comfort to those in need.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


1. Wheel barrows if you can...and if you can leave them that would be super! Solid tires are best...flats take time to repair!
2. Shovels (long handled)! If you can leave some that would help too
3. Leather or heavy duty gloves

Monday, June 30, 2008

from Pastor Sheryl Campbell, St Paul's, UMC, Waterloo

June 27, 2008 Waterloo, IA

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ---

First of all, I will tell you that we could use some help in our area. Like everyone else, we really hate to ask—there are so many great needs everywhere in our world. And our little ol' floods actually are small compared to some of the great disasters in our world, even in recent months…

Yet, this is a GREAT opportunity, if you feel called to pray for, share with, or partner any efforts in this area. If you have a prayer team of 2 or 22, a mission team, some dollars to share, we are being shown hour by hour one or ten or one hundred more persons who are experiencing great loss and grief along with many of their family and neighbors and friends….

A quick punchline is that our small-but-loving church in the north part of Waterloo, IA is hosting and helping to dispatch mission teams from UMC churches, UCC churches, ANY churches, individuals, groups from Habitat for Humanity, Vista/Americorps, and anyone the Lord sends to minister to folks not only in our city, but also in smaller towns and rural places within quite a radius of here. I am someone who is simply trying to enhance the wonderful working-together and praying-together of so many terrific folks. I also seek to be a support to my own parishioners and everyone else God is putting in my path—as well as encourage and communicate with others who may wish to do the same.

A great big enthusiastic thanks to Pastor Terry Plocher of Reinbeck, IA (30 miles away) who already after a brief communication with UMC Volunteers In Mission has been here in person and has brought several in his church to "BE the church" TO affected people. One small example of many things they are doing in Christ's name--they have helped one homeowner carry out very heavy water-soaked papers, ruined furniture and multitudinous personal items, have helped to finish pumping and cleaning a basement, have now stripped and hauled out sheet rock, all while being of great comfort and cheer to a very stunned lady who can't understand why she can't really move—after all, she has only been "inconvenienced…" They (Reinbeck) have been here twice—and promise more in the future. Pastor Terry even took the time to visit three of my folks in the nursing homes this week (I have about 30!), to remind them of the Lord's love—and that Pastor Sheryl and the church have them in our thoughts and prayers but are just a little busy right now.

Pastor Terry and at least one of his former churches were impacted by massive flooding and disaster 15 years ago. He now is equipped to help with keen insight to the chaos and need. I was serving a Lutheran church part-time in Grand Forks ND/East Grand Forks MN when 80-90% of that combined community went under water as the build up from blizzards melted in April, 1997. I then was able to stay with them full-time for a year of their disaster, cleanup and rebuilding process. Now we learn from them. Another colleague from Waterloo's Eastside Ministerial Alliance, Martha Frazier, helped and served in Katrina for years and now helps ministers to minister in Waterloo. May we all continue to learn from one another, as we unite to build one another up in the Lord.

Also a GREAT thanks to so many others who have called, who have scheduled, who are praying and discerning what to do. I so much want to hug you all! Our churches and many other agencies are working together QUICKLY to share across every denominational line to host and dispatch any one who would like to come and help. We were so happy to receive a visit on Monday, June 23 from Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Iowa Conference United Methodist Church, along with Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. They came with people from UMC Iowa Conference Disaster Relief, UMC Iowa Volunteers In Mission, UMC news and publications, and UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief). They listened to us carefully, though they had so MANY other people in the state to listen to as well that day! The Bishops will be happy to know that we at St. Paul's UMC already are partnering with St. Luke's Episcopal Church to host short term mission work groups coming in this summer. I am kind of assuming this will lead to more…

You—or someone you know—can help church-to-church, neighbor-to-neighbor, or in many aspects of the cities, Red Cross, United Way, and more. Many of you already are—thank you! Large experienced early-disaster-response Christian agencies such as World Hope and Samaritan's Purse have set up and can equip-train-dispatch individuals or small/large working groups immediately to help those on the lists. (World Hope has helped several of our parishioners already!!) More are coming. I hear MUCH praise from those who have worked Katrina and other disasters for years about what United Methodist (UMCOR) and Presbyterians and Lutherans and others do in ongoing wondrous work and help for others—again, hand-in-hand with all the above-mentioned and more. I know they are at work in Iowa, preparing to do it again, and stay for the long haul. As far as now, you don't have to be from afar off to lend a hand—local residents who are not overwhelmed can help for a half-a-day or a day or more as they are able. Physical labor, friendship walking-with, or even helping an elderly person sterilize their flooded china or jewelry or other keepsake can be of great help and support. And pray.

I am writing from St. Paul's UMC in Waterloo Iowa. Anything I say here can apply to many many communities around us, most certainly and worse (?) Cedar Rapids, Coralville/Iowa City, and more to the south of us all. Towns such as New Hartford, Palo, Chelsea and others have widespread damage beyond our belief—AND all of the environs, of course. Crops and grazing lands have been ruined for the season. Other businesses are out-of-business or struggling to figure out what to do now. Our news media simply cannot cover it all adequately in order that we all should understand the extent of the damage and havoc for all… I will speak for my perspective of our immediate area, and you can simply project the same and more for areas north and east and south and west of us.

Waterloo/Cedar Falls area (we call it "Cedar Valley") and surrounding towns have experienced a greater "natural disaster" crisis than anyone ever can remember, with the incredible flooding that began June 9 and 10, and then kept continuing, and continuing. Waverly has been incredibly hit. Parkersburg, New Hartford, areas north of Dunkerton, and so many rural areas around still are stunned and many out of their homes since an incredible F-5 (really-really-big-and-destructive) tornado hit May 25 and took or greatly damaged many homes, churches, farms and other businesses. New Hartford then seems to have been much-covered by flood waters—I haven't even been there yet—but my friend who lost her sister-in-law (killed in the tornado)—and also suffered much wind damage personally and everyone else there she knows—told me yesterday that the green flood slime which came two weeks later is still in her home as she and her husband are living with their grown kids in another house for now. The pictures of New Hartford under water several days ago that I finally saw on news media last night were incredible.

My eyes are here in Waterloo where more have been affected than ever before—with floodwaters, storm sewer back-up, ground-water in basements, and more. No matter how large or small the water damage, the mold is here, which creates more problems of its own.

Sometimes this massive flood has taken, wrecked and twisted a whole home like one of my parishioners. Sometimes it has "simply" filled a home-including the main floor-with violent flood waters, leaving a stinky mess to clean up and incredible waiting, paperwork, more waiting, confusion and chaos—while the adults of the family need to still go to full time work every day and then deal with whatever else they can do after hours. Sometimes it is like another one of my parishioners who just had to wait for days and days for the water to quit coming in through the basement walls, inundating and ruining "only" the water heater, furnace, washer, dryer, everything stored there they had no time to get out. They feel much better now that they have removed 7000 pounds of soggy crud from their basement, have actually been power-washed and sanitized thanks to a Christian volunteer group, and now simply have to connect with overworked contractors with long waiting lists for all the rest and deplete the personal savings they had. They are so happy to have running water again after two weeks without. Hot water will come later. Their pets are still with them. SO fortunate compared to others! Did I mention they both are over 80? Their grown son has helped them constantly. He is worn out, too—though the flood never touched his house.

Another couple I know did not want to call any of the Christian or city or United Way agency help lines. After all, they only had an inch or two of water in their basement. But that is enough to completely soak a carpet, make dressers fall into pieces and render a precious cedar chest unusable, and mold up every piece of camping equipment, along with all their daughter's bedroom belongings, Christmas decorations and more. Fortunately, a Habitat for Humanity group already staying in our church made themselves available after their other work yesterday to come over and lift everything, including that horrid now-moldy carpet (it used to be red!), up out of the basement and to the curb. Across the street they could also watch the heavy-loading equipment driving and scooping up multiple building-high mounds of personal items and furniture that used to belong to everyone in the east-Waterloo neighborhood—last Saturday everyone who lived in the area was invited to dispose of it there—and the ones who had the energy and the strength did. My couple was a little behind—he has been out of work (self-employed) since a very difficult surgery 4 months ago, and she still limps from last year's hip-replacement surgery. They did enjoy sharing with the Habitat folks about the 17 years' worth of mission trips they used to go OUT on, around our country, shoulder-to-shoulder with friends from Methodist and Catholic churches—they called the group the "Metholics." Anyway, they now have had the energy to call a help line and get on a list. World Hope will take care of the next steps as soon as they can—and they are discipling the rest of us to help people like them and others in the future.

I found out two days ago that three predominantly Black churches were so flooded that they likely will never be in those buildings again. I know many others were greatly damaged. Parsonages have been damaged—including those of our own local UMC brothers and sisters and more I don't yet know of. Others, like ours, were not touched—which enables us to offer our worship space to share (we only have one Sunday service at 9am), and to pray for others, and to host work groups. We also are continuing with our brand new 1st & 3rd Wednesday Evening worship—that is bringing some new people in the doors—some who "don't do" Sunday mornings… we'll see.

I don't know what else to say—I'll share what I can as I can, but sitting in front of a computer to write is a luxury I used to do for an hour a day, and now simply try to find a few minutes here-and-there in order to catch up.

There has been incredibly low numbers as far as loss-of-life directly due to these hits—yet we all know that to each family that has lost THEIR loved one, the disaster is beyond hurt—as with everyone suffering at any time whether or not it makes the headlines. Keep praying for those now facing post-disaster injuries, depression and other mental afflictions, reactions from air tainted with mold or carbon monoxide, and more. We have to be so careful, and so caring, now and on into the future.

Let the Holy Spirit remind us all to be so careful and caring, in these situations, and the others everywhere day by day. May we all be ready to let our lights shine in the name of Christ, to help lighten another's darkness or share the load, to offer our time and worship and prayer and praise to the God who made us and loves us, including taking that Sabbath time to allow God to restore peace to our souls.

Please pass this on to whomever you think should read it. I don't know how to reach you all, and even those I could look up in directories of various kinds, I just don't have time right now. Bless you all.

In Christ, "Pastor Sheryl" Eash Campbell
Serving at St. Paul's United Methodist Church
207 West Louise Street Waterloo, IA 50703

Saturday, June 28, 2008

From Bishop Scarfe, 6/26/08

On Tuesday I got my first sight of the devastation that has occurred in Cedar Rapids. Thanks to Lisa Butler, the tireless parish life coordinator of Christ Church Cedar Rapids, I was able to visit one of their eleven families who have incurred severe damage to their home. They are one of 98% of the household in Palo, outside Cedar Rapids, where the river first overflowed its banks. Their houses look fine in the now blue skies above, but on the doors are the telltale signs of contamination and instability. The signs mark each home according to their degree of habitability. Most read yellow which means uninhabitable until further notice. Families come each day from other locations to do what they can in clean up and recovery. One of these families from Christ Church is teamed up with parishioners who have “adopted” them for however long it takes to get them back in their home.

I met later with the faith community in Cedar Rapids as we shared a prayer service together – an interfaith service where the hug and embrace of the Muslim imam with the Jewish rabbi brought as much of an ovation as any words of reflection and prayers of hope that night. A subtext of a deeper hope was being lived out even in the midst of all of the suffering. This is a community which I believe will show the way forward in coordinating efforts and bringing people closer together by mutually sharing resources and personnel. Our Episcopal Churches both now house local agencies – one for the disabled and another for the elderly – which had been flooded out in the downtown area.
Home after home along the downtown streets have the “flood crud” piled high on the curb. It is hard to imagine how high the waters came, and how whole churches were covered. Thirty one religious buildings were damaged some beyond repair.

I took an amateur video of my travels and will repeat it today as I go through Iowa City and back to Cedar Rapids on the way to Mitch Smith’s celebration of new ministry in Waterloo. As I write the clouds are indicating that Mother Nature is not finished with us yet. I hope through Catherine Quehl Engel to meet with workers who have been serving under horrendous conditions.

I will see some of you in Grinnell.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


It was a busy weekend so I haven't posted anything new. I continue to receive calls from volunteers and am just getting folks connected. Finding the local coordinators hasn't been easy but I now have three contacts.

We have enlisted the aid of The Rev'd Betsy Lee to help with the volunteer coordination, that is getting volunteers connected with those in need.

We have asked The Rev'd Susanne Watson to help as well.

We are also hoping to get a web page, up and running in the next day or so. Hopefully this will be more user friendly. We will keep you posted.

The Mid-American Baptist Churches have a site you can go to for information from their judicatory. See the denominational links to get to it, or click here:

Thanks again for all who are volunteering and for all the offers of help.


Pat Genereux

Friday, June 20, 2008


Not sure how long the offer will last...but read below to find out more about this wonderful offer...


Hello everyone, especially to those in the flooded river towns,

I have access to literally a ton of food to be distributed. This comes from the "Kids Against Hunger" program. Each bag contains 6 meals of a rice/soy base with dried vegetables, chicken flavoring, and vitamins/nutrients. This can be served as is or with meat or more vegetables added. One case has 36 bags equaling 216 meals/portions as packaged.

What I need to know is how many churches/towns are feeding people directly such as Waverly is doing or has food pantries that could use this food to give to those in need especially those who have been flooded out. If I can get this information from you, who are on the front lines, I could plan to make a road trip as early as next week to distribute this gift of food. Please indicate how many cases you could use, addresses as to where to deliver, and cell phone numbers for contact people. When I get the totals, I will apportion as fairly as I can, and will publish a delivery schedule.

Thanks in advance,

Spirit Lake

Carl's email is: