Nearly three months after a bomb cyclone hit the central Midwest, communities in Iowa and Nebraska are still cleaning up and looking to move forward. The floodwaters not only destroyed homes, businesses, and farmland, but also infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways, and water lines. Rebuilding will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and the larger economic effects will be felt beyond the region for some time.
Local UCC churches, with the support of The UCC’s National Disaster Ministry (NDM), have pitched in to provide help with clean-up, warm meals, and a loving presence for people who may have lost everything. The NDM provides both short-term assistance and long-term recovery support through monetary donations, volunteer and supply coordination, and prayer. The NDM, in collaboration with local Disaster Ministry Coordinator Rev. Brice Hughes, has sent five Solidarity Grants totaling $15,000 to churches responding to this disaster.
St. Luke’s & Gruetli United Church of Christ in Columbus, Nebraska has used their grant to support a collaborative effort with 11 faith communities called CIA – Church in Action. That group has been administering a distribution center, where flood victims can obtain toiletries, health and medical care supplies, cleanup supplies, and other necessities, and a food pantry that is accessible to everyone. St. Luke’s has been using their Solidarity Grant funding to provide milk, meat, and bread to the food pantry, as well as meals to volunteer groups helping with recovery. The distribution center closed on June 1, but the food pantry will stay open at this point. The remaining funds will be used to continue with both the food pantry and providing meals for volunteer groups while they are assisting.
First Congregational United Church of Christ in Glenwood, Iowa continues to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for people displaced from their homes. Up to 100 people show up for dinner each day. Solidarity Grant funds help provide supplement food items. First Congregational UCC is also using part of their Solidarity Grant funding to partner with other area churches in providing $100 gift certificates to people who need to purchase items that have not been covered by donations. Additionally, First Congregational UCC members are cleaning and gutting flooded houses and providing emotional support for people as they face complete or partial loss of their homes. Rebuilding is not a matter of days or months. Rather, it will likely be a three- to five-year process. First Congregational UCC and the NDM is committed to this ministry until there is no longer a need.
The need for relief in these flood-stricken areas will continue long after the news coverage fades away. To help those in need, consider the following options:
- Donate financially to One Great Hour of Sharing, which supports disaster and refugee ministries.
- Donate financially to special funds designated by the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences for disaster recovery ministries To give to those ministries, send a check marked with “[state]-Disaster Ministries” in the memo line to our Des Moines office: 5609 Douglas Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310
- Assemble clean-up kits. The UCC has grants to provide supplies for clean-up kits, and your community can help assemble and deliver them.
- Offer clean-up and repair help.
- Pray for those affected by flooding and those who are helping in the aftermath. Here are some prayers for disasters from the national UCC.
Please do not collect and send general material donations such as old clothing, toys, or even food and water without coordinating with the local recovery teams. Donated “stuff” is often not helpful and may even interfere with recovery efforts as time and money must be diverted to manage unusable donations.