Congregation Forms Work Crews to Address Flood Damage

Post a Comment » Written on June 18th, 2008     
Filed under: News
MASON CITY, IA (June 18, 2008) – Members of First Covenant Church have eagerly begun the intensive work to help others in this community recover from the devastating floodwaters.

On Sunday, more than 30 people enlisted to work on construction and cleanup crews, and another 20 said they would bring meals and snacks to the workers. “It was a great preliminary response,” says pastor Tammy Swanson-Draheim. “I think those numbers will grow as specific opportunities to help are made available.”

Church members will meet this evening to craft a process for responding to the various needs. “I am not sure how much red tape will be involved in all of this, but in many cases, I assume we are talking about long-term projects,” Swanson-Draheim says.

Swanson-Draheim says the congregation certainly will be helping a member of the congregation who had a Habitat for Humanity home. “She has a remarkably hopeful and resilient attitude,” the pastor adds. “Her home is uninhabitable, but we are going to do all we can to care well for her and help her restore her home.”

Church members already have begun helping others, said Frank Smillie, who, along with Bill Bowen and John Skipper, is organizing the projects. Much of that work has involved cleaning mud from the houses.

The mud is different than what people generally think of, Smillie said. “When it dries, it’s like soot after a fire.”

Church chairperson Doug Peterson, who also is the CEO for Metalcraft, estimates a month will be needed to clean the basement of the manufacturing company. Workers had to pump out more than five feet of muddy water.

Peterson was getting ready to attend church June 9 when he received a call that the water from the Willow River had reached the company’s building. Water had started to seep inside when he arrived.

He and workers were able to move a lot of equipment and product to the main and second floors of the building before the city ordered an evacuation. Metalcraft, which makes nameplates and labels with identification codes used for property control by customers that include Caterpillar and John Deere, was able to continue production.

Still, the company suffered substantial equipment damage, Peterson said. Metalcraft did not have flood insurance.

“We’ll be able to absorb the loss, but it will hurt this financial year,” he said. Because the 75 employees own the 50-year-old company, everyone will feel the pinch, he added.

Peterson had a chance to share his company’s story with Iowa Governor Chet Culver, who toured the operation early last week. The governor has declared the flooded region a disaster area.

Peterson said, “There was an initial feeling of despair and hopelessness. You’re at the mercy of the water.”

The mood of the people is changing, however. “It’s amazingly good,” Peterson said. “We have a tremendous team effort.”

Swanson-Draheim said she has been encouraged by the support from other Covenanters.
“It has been a blessing to have contact from people around our nation expressing care and concern for us. A number of Covenant pastors communicated that they would be praying for our community and our congregation this past Sunday.

Covenant World Relief (CWR) is working with the Midwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church to develop and implement responses to assist victims of widespread flooding that has devastated large portions of several states in the Midwestern part of the country.

A special fund has been established for those desiring to contribute to the CWR relief efforts. Checks may be made payable to Covenant World Relief, earmarked for Flood Relief, and sent to Covenant World Relief, 5101 N. Francisco Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60625.

Online donations by credit card may be made by visiting this special Flood Relief link. All gifts will be acknowledged by the business office for charitable deduction purposes.

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