Adel church members help clean up storm debris in Cedar Rapids
What started as a New Hope Church staff meeting ended with over 20 adults traveling to Eastern Iowa in order to help families affected by the Aug. 10 storm. Prior to making the trip, members of the Adel church had reached out to Stonebridge Church located in Cedar Rapids for information regarding homes that were in need of help. The church then coordinated two volunteer service days which took place on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29.
Once in Cedar Rapids, volunteers sawed large trees, picked up limbs and brush and piled the debris along the curb for the city to haul away. New Hope Church Volunteer, Ann Cochran, said that the day was well organized by Stonebridge Church and that volunteers were sent in small groups to specific residents that had agreed to have help with clean up work.
“Seeing the heavy damage along Highway 30 from Marshalltown east to Cedar Rapids made us realize how relatively slight the destruction was at home,” Cochran said. “We prayed with and offered encouragement to the home owners. They were exhausted from working for days to clear their properties.”
Volunteers were also able to saw heavily damaged trees that were still standing before clearing the debris once it was down. Volunteer Cindy Kool said that extremely large trees more than three to four feet in diameter were completely uprooted and toppled over. In addition, the ground around the trees, including the sidewalks, had been completely pushed up.
“When we arrived in Cedar Rapids we were completely in awe and disheartened of all of the damage. We went to established neighborhoods with very large beautiful old trees. So many of them had been blown down onto houses and garages,” Kool said. “We saw a lot of down power lines and siding blown off the homes. We even saw limbs sticking out of the side of the houses from the force of the winds.”
Kool also recalled helping both elderly neighbors and individuals with disabilities along with a site where the homeowners had lost 95% of their trees that had been located on their one acre lot for over 20 years. Kool estimated that around 25 tress had been blown down and destroyed. Volunteers used chainsaws to cut the trees into small pieces before using a skid steer to pile the logs and limbs for the city to remove.
“We met several students along with their parents from the area and several people from other states who had come to help the people in need,” Kool said. “We are blessed to live in the USA where people come to the aid of their neighbors even if they are many miles away.”
One of these families included a farming couple from Luverne, Minnesota who brought a skid steer for the weekend to help move debris. Kool also heard of a ministry where chefs traveled from across the country to prepare and hand out food. She said that vans and a bus from Samaritan’s Purse were parked at a church to help provide aid.
“When we first arrived, we could see the despair in the faces of the affected on how they would manage the clean-up. After their area had been cleared, the faces were of relief and thankfulness,” Kool said.