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Midwest fights on against floods

BY SUSAN KIM | DAVENPORT, IA | April 26, 2001

"People are experiencing enormous emotional and spiritual stress."

—Cail Furst

The Mississippi River crested late Tuesday in Davenport, IA, where residents were still struggling to keep floodwaters out of

their homes through Wednesday.

The river crested more than 20 feet above flood stage and is expected to stay nearly that high for the next two days. Sandbagging continued Wednesday in

Davenport, which is the largest urban area on the upper Mississippi without a permanent floodwall.

Floodwaters have put enormous pressure on levees that have been recently constructed.

This week 1,115 Iowa homes were damaged by flooding, according to the Iowa Emergency Management Division. Three hundred people were evacuated

from their homes. Significant flooding has also been reported in La Crescent, MN and La Crosse, WI.

Larry Buckner, national Adventist Community Services (ACS) disaster response coordinator, reported that ACS volunteers were participating in the

Midwest "flood watch.

"We continue to be in close contact with emergency management leaders in the affected states. If there should be a need we will put our response plans into

action immediately," Buckner said.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance reported that, in most cases, floodgates and dikes have helped minimize severe flooding but added that impact cannot be

fully known until the water has receded.

Week of Compassion, a giving program coordinated through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) reported that its representatives are in close contact

with the Upper Midwest region about the impact on Disciples congregations and about possible interfaith response initiatives.

Meanwhile stress continued to be high for residents along the Mississippi. Many residents have vivid memories of past severe floods.

"As people remember the 1965 and 1993 floods -- and experience the present rising waters -- they are experiencing enormous emotional and spiritual stress,"

reported Gil Furst of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR). "Generally throughout the region there are preparations for worst-case scenarios and high hopes

for the best."

Church World Service reported that it appeared likely that, throughout the region, there will be new interfaith

groups formed in communities affected by spring floods. But CWS added that the impact on the most vulnerable

residents of the communities at risk is not yet clear. CWS volunteers have been in contact with other voluntary

organizations in region to assess the situation.

LDR has also been in contact with local responding groups.

"The people hold guarded optimism as they sandbag and prepare for floods," Furst said. "Levies, earth dikes, and

sandbags have contained the river waters so far. Local volunteers continue to fill and place sandbags.

"The river has flooded the basements of many riverside houses and businesses," he added.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief said it had been in contact with denominational representatives in affected areas and was assessing needs.

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