Jul 28, 2008

Off to Iowa this weekend

Well, this posting has nothing to do with trains. I didn't work on the layout at all, but instead spent Saturday with Vineyard's mercy response team in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, helping w/ flood-damaged houses there. I was really not expecting the level of damage this town has suffered - block after block of empty homes and deserted streets (except for the Salvation Army truck distributing food & water to folks gutting houses).

It was a good experience. Our national arm of our church - Vineyard USA - has set up a full-time operation in Cedar Rapids (modeled on it's continuing program in New Orleans), managing volunteer teams that go out and help families with flood-damaged homes. The water rose to 10' in many neighborhoods, and many of the homes being worked on were flooded to the top of the first floor.

We sent about 40 people out, but stayed only for Friday night and Saturday. My group of 6 gutted a house that hadn't been touched since the floods in mid-June, and it was RIPE! It was low-income rental managed by a Four Square church (whose building is also trashed). It was great old frame home, built around 1900, very large. It had been coverted into two apartments, and the lower one's family apparently just ran and left most of their stuff. It was pretty heart-breaking to drag out piles of clothes, toys, electronics, school backpacks still full of books, etc - a whole family's life of belongings, nearly. We pulled the belongings, appliances, and other stuff out, then ripped out the carpet, then started demoing the interior of the first floor down to the studs.

They tell me houses like this can be saved, and it would be nice - it's a great old place. But the damage was pretty bad.

Anyway - perhaps back to trains next week!