Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Northern Plains District is part of relief effort for Iowa floods.

Over the past weekend, the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Plains District issued an e-mail report on its congregations and members affected by flooding in Iowa, and how the district is contributing to the relief effort. The report dated June 21 noted that as flood waters recede in many areas damage is being assessed, and flooding continues south of Iowa along the Mississippi.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund is giving a grant of $5,000 to Northern Plains District in support of its efforts to assist in cleanup following the flooding (see story below).

Following are excerpts from the district report:
"Cedar Rapids was especially hit by the Cedar River that broke flood records. Tammy Buseman, pastor of Cedar Rapids Baptist and Church of the Brethren, shares that her congregation has been directing people to be involved in locally coordinated relief efforts. In addition, the church is working to provide direct support to members of the church severely impacted by the flood. Several have lost homes and businesses.

"Sandy Marsau, board chair of South Waterloo Church of the Brethren, shares that her congregation has provided financial assistance to several families connected with the church who were uprooted by the flooded Cedar River. One family who feared the total loss of their home was relieved to find that flood waters had stopped at the ground floor level.

"The flooded Shell Rock River impacted many in the town of Greene where our Greene Church of the Brethren/Methodist Church is located. Loran McRoberts, moderator of the Greene Church, lost everything in the basement which was filled with 5-6 feet of water/sewage. The same thing happened in the church parsonage and in the Methodist Church facility. Ashok Patat, pastor of the Greene Church, shares that one family in the church completely lost their home.

"Gary Gahm is our Northern Plains District disaster coordinator and the district contact person for requests for assistance and offers of help.... Inform him of those persons in your church who are interested in volunteering with clean-up and rebuilding efforts. Especially important are the names of persons from your church who will be coordinating volunteers. Contact Gary Gahm at or 712-328-0894 or 712-314-1326.

"Gahm has been working at state-level coordination efforts. A website has been set up for receiving funds, requests for assistance, and offers of volunteer help and he has now been trained to use that site as a coordination tool. He also has been working with Zach Wolgemuth and Jane Yount of Brethren Disaster Ministries to receive a grant for district disaster response efforts and to begin planning for the longterm volunteer and recovery effort.

"On June 13, Tim Button-Harrison, interim district executive, along with Gary Gahm and Zach Wolgemuth, participated in a conference call of Iowa church leaders and disaster coordinators to share information and discuss ways to cooperate in providing immediate and longterm relief. Out of the discussion, the Episcopal Diocese offered to set up a central website for Iowa church leaders to share and coordinate information. A follow-up conference call of Iowa church leaders is scheduled for June 24.

"Grants are now available from the District Disaster Fund for congregations to assist families in need, for general flood relief work of congregations, and for expense reimbursements of volunteers serving on behalf of the district and our churches. There is an urgent need of financial contributions to the District Disaster Fund. Funds will be used to provide grants, through congregations, to individuals in need, to support local and district relief efforts, and to reimburse expenses of volunteers working on behalf of the district and its churches. Send checks to Disaster Fund, Northern Plains District--Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 493, Ankeny, IA 50021.

"A message we need to share is DO NOT SEND CLOTHES. There may be special clothing needs that arise, but until the word comes out about such a need, clothes are not needed."
The district report went on to highlight the great need for Emergency Clean-up Buckets. Go to for information about contents and how to assemble Emergency Clean-up Bucket kits. Gary Gahm is working with Church World Service to determine a distribution site for buckets in Iowa. The Northern Plains District Conference also will hold a buckets collection on July 25-26 at Hammond Avenue Church in Waterloo.

Gahm reported that Root River Church of the Brethren just raised $700 for clean-up buckets during Vacation Bible School. With those funds they have assembled 15 kits and will assemble five more. The Hands of Christ group in Rochester is working with Root River by purchasing items for the kits.

6/25/2008 Newsline Extra

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