Major floods force 1,500 from homes

BY GEORGE PIPER | DUBUQUE, Iowa | May 19, 1999


DUBUQUE, Iowa (May 19, 1999) -- Disaster response organizations here are

gearing up in anticipation of needed relief and recovery efforts from this

week's record flooding that forced more than 1,100 families from their

homes.

Lutheran Social Services of Iowa is planning to meet with pastors in

the affected counties and see what needs are present, said LSS of Iowa vice

president Carol Fredrich. The organization's disaster coordinator, Pat

Geisel, has spoken with clergy to gauge the disaster's magnitude there.

"The extent of the flooding in some of these homes means (the survivors) are

going to be displaced for quite a while," Fredrich said.

Iowa Division of Emergency Management officials estimate more than 1,100

homes affected by flooding in nine counties after heavy rains on Sunday

caused rivers and creeks to overflow. That number is expected to rise as

damage assessors reach areas where water is just receding.

The governor's office has now declared nine counties -- Black Hawk, Bremer,

Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Linn and Jones -- as disaster

areas due to flooding and is expected to seek a federal disaster

declaration. Rainfall amounts ranged from three to nine inches across the

area, and no flooding-related injuries are being reported.

Shelters houses nearly 1,500 people in the days following the flood, while

American Red Cross and Salvation Army workers kept survivors fed. Emergency

personnel performed dozens of rescues of people trapped in homes and on top

of cars by rising water.

The Mid-American Baptist Men were responding to Dunkerton with with a

specialized trailer that included pumps/pressure washers/generators and

other disaster equipment to assist with area cleanup.

Northeastern Iowa is no stranger to flooding. Old-timers remembered the 1929

disaster while some houses still have marks indicating water levels in the

1968 and 1993 floods. But this flood put whole towns under water, causing

some to say this damage -- estimated so far at $33.7 million -- tops the 1993

disaster.

Volunteer coordination for cleanup work and helping survivors find flood

resources are a couple of tasks that LSS of Iowa likely will undertake as it

sorts out what assistance and aid is available locally and nationally.

"We're getting prepared to do the kinds of things we've done in other

situations," she said. "Often we're working ecumenically as well, and we'll

be part of those efforts as they develop."

Posted May 19, 1999


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