Public Safety

Cedar Rapids Salvation Army volunteers deployed to flood region

Other agencies aiding Western Iowa, eastern Nebraska

Truck driver Bruno Gracanin moves a pallet full of flood recovery kits packed into plastic buckets into the back of a semi-trailer at Janda Motors in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, March 18, 2019. Over 700 of the flood kits, containing bleach, gloves, sponges and other cleaning supplies will be driven to the Omaha area and distributed to residents in the area affected by the flooding in Nebraska. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Truck driver Bruno Gracanin moves a pallet full of flood recovery kits packed into plastic buckets into the back of a semi-trailer at Janda Motors in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, March 18, 2019. Over 700 of the flood kits, containing bleach, gloves, sponges and other cleaning supplies will be driven to the Omaha area and distributed to residents in the area affected by the flooding in Nebraska. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Salvation Army has deployed a team of Cedar Rapids-based volunteers to assist in flood recovery efforts in Nebraska.

Other state agencies including the Red Cross also are responding to major flooding in Western Iowa and in nearby states as warnings from the National Weather Service indicate the water could continue to rise into Tuesday.

Historic flooding already has displaced hundreds of individuals from their homes as rivers and creeks overflow their banks and into communities in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska over the weekend.

The rising water levels follow an intense winter storm weather experts are calling a “bomb cyclone.”

Service agencies are focusing new efforts to the south, where levees along the Missouri River have failed and have resulted in flooding Fremont County and other areas.

Four members of the emergency disaster services team from the Cedar Rapids Salvation Army departed for Omaha, Neb., Monday afternoon with food, water and cleanup kits to distribute. They will be in the area helping with recovery efforts for 10 days.

Shalla Ashworth, director of development and communications for Cedar Rapids Salvation Army, said the team was deployed by the organization’s divisional headquarters in Peoria, Ill.

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A semi-truck also was on its way to Omaha, which volunteers loaded up Monday with similar supplies to be handed out to affected individuals.

In some cases, the homes of those they may be assisting have not been touched by the floodwater, but are unreachable due to flooded roads, Ashworth said.

American Red Cross volunteers also are expecting a similar scenario in Iowa. The organization has deployed volunteers to manage shelters across the state, but the largest influx has been in the shelter in Sidney in Fremont County, said Caslon Hatch, regional communications officer for the Iowa region of the Red Cross.

“We’re expecting more people because the roads are flooding in a lot of these areas,” Hatch said, “so we’re expecting people will have nowhere to stay.”

Eighteen people used shelter services in Sidney Sunday night, she said. Volunteers at the shelter were anticipating more for Monday night.

Many clients of the Red Cross shelter are “upset and depressed,” said Vic Parker, a Red Cross volunteer from Delaware sent to Iowa to manage the Sidney shelter. She said some individuals staying there have as much as 10 feet of water in their homes.

Parker said she tries to tell clients visiting shelters that, eventually, everything will be OK.

“I try to reassure them that it will get back to normal — it may not be tomorrow, but everything will get back to normal,” she said.

Hatch said they recently closed a shelter in Woodbury County, where residents of communities that include Hornick were allowed back into their homes Sunday to assess damage, according to the Sioux City Journal.

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In Cedar Rapids, estimates suggested the Cedar River was expected to crest at about 18 feet Monday night. Updated road closures can be found at https://bit.ly/2HC5nD4.

For more information on efforts by the Cedar Rapids Salvation Army, visit centralusa.salvationarmy.org/cedarrapids. Information on the Red Cross can be found at redcross.org/local/iowa.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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