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A number of you have contacted us to ask how our congregations have been affected by the recent flooding across the Midwest.

[June 16] Nancy Heege, of Prairie Star District to the West, Nancy Combs-Morgan, of Heartland District to the East, Ian Evison of Central Midwest District and Harlan Limpert, of the UUA, had a conversation to pool our information.  It appears that the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids congregations in Iowa have been the most strongly affected.  The Indiana congregations of Columbus and Terra Haute, have also been considerably affected. Read on to find out how you can help.

How our Midwestern Unitarian Universalist congregations were affected by flooding:

In Indiana:
Nancy Combs-Morgan, Heartland District Executive, reports: I spent Sunday morning [June 15] with our Terre Haute, IN congregation, who amazingly went forward with a moving installation service for Rev. Amy Kindred. On Saturday, I was with them as well where they literally were shoveling mud and dirt from the drive to make it accessible for the Sunday service. The congregation is rallying and their church and church grounds are OK. They do have some congregants who have experienced damage, including retired minister Rev. Doddie Stone, who had folks from the congregation respond to her house flooding with great support and direct assistance. The congregation movingly devoted the Sunday morning collection for those who have lost so much in this disaster.

Our Columbus, IN congregation, with Rev. Dennis McCarty are OK, but Columbus was extremely hard hit.  They do have at least 4 families in their congregation who have lost everything (many without insurance).

In Iowa:
Nancy Heege, Prairie Star District Executive reports: The cities of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were hit very hard. While the church properties were not damaged, the damage in the cities will affect the economy of the area for a long time to come.

In Iowa City, fifteen UU households were flooded. Some lost everything; others were able to move some or all of their belongings out. Because of where the homes were located, families had not been able to obtain flood insurance, so some literally lost everything. In addition, a number of church members are employed by the University of Iowa, which suffered millions of dollars of damage when part of the campus flooded. It’s likely their livelihood will be affected.

In Cedar Rapids, flood waters came within a block of the UU church. The downtown is devastated. While the damage is still being calculated, it’s clear that church families will be affected by the losses to the economy of the area.

Both of these, and other Iowa congregations, are working on ways to help their own members and their larger communities and will be working with local agencies such as the Red Cross.

In checking with other UU congregations in Iowa, I didn’t hear of major damage to church property or to the homes of members.

In Wisconsin:
Ian Evison, Congregational Services Director in Central Midwest District, reports: In Central Midwest, the direct impact on our congregations has been less substantial. The most direct effect we have heard of so far as been to the Fond du Lac congregation.  I spoke on Monday to the president of that congregation, Judy Goldsmith. People in the congregation have water in their basements and there is six inches of water in the lower level of their new building. They have not heard of any injuries to anyone in the congregation. And, in a stroke of good luck, the new carpet for their lower level had not yet been installed. It seems that, after a big clean-up job, they will be able to move in as planned. To assist with the clean-up and to help this congregation in its move to its first home of its own, the Central Midwest District is making a contribution on behalf of all its congregations and our wider association. This money will come from funds we all contributed last Fall during Association Sunday. 

 

How You Can Help:
While it will be some time before all the damage estimates will be completed, the districts most affected—Prairie Star and Heartland—have set up funds to accept donations for UU families and congregations most affected by the flooding. The District Boards and Staff will create distribution systems to assist those in need. To make contributions to Prairie Star go to their website at http://www.psduua.org/News/MidwesternFlooding.  To make contributions to Heartland go to http://www.heartlanduu.org/.

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