IN RESPONSE TO THIS DISASTER, HEADWATERS RELIEF ORGANIZATION CALLED FOR VOLUNTEERS AND ORGANIZED SIX TRIPS WITH A TOTAL OF FIFTY VOLUNTEERS WHO GAVE OF THEIR TIME, ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF CEDAR RAPIDS, FROM LATE JUNE THROUGH THE END OF JULY.
On June 12, 2008, the rain-swollen Cedar River poured over its banks into the homes and businesses of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The resulting devastation was overwhelming. It was estimated that one hundred blocks of Cedar Rapids, including four thousand homes, were under water. The flooding was above 500 year levels, in what the National Weather Service called a “historic hydrological event.”
In response to this disaster, Headwaters Relief Organization called for volunteers and organized six trips with a total of fifty volunteers who gave of their time, energy and enthusiasm to serve the people of Cedar Rapids, from late June through the end of July.
The focus of the first five trips was assisting homeowners with the removal of debris and “gutting” their homes. “Gutting” includes tearing down damaged walls and ceilings to the studs and pulling up flooring. In some cases it included moving on to the next step and power washing the homes.
In many cases, the volunteers worked side by side with the home owners. While the damage was incredible, the homeowners expressed hope and confidence in the potential for recovery and the volunteers appreciated having the opportunity to offer the home owners support in that recovery. Upon their return home, many of the Headwaters volunteers said that it was the people’s responses to our efforts that were the best part of this experience. They said that they enjoyed being able to meet the home owners and work closely with them in our relief efforts.
The sixth and last trip to Cedar Rapids was in response to the need for help with animals affected by the floods. A group of volunteers traveled to help in an Animal Shelter, located in Iowa City, Iowa. They arrived and were put to work in various areas. They walked dogs, cleaned cages, did laundry and socialized the cats. One of our volunteers even had the opportunity to go out with a rescue crew and bring back several stray cats. While other volunteers were able to help the veterinarian as she made her rounds and performed routine procedures. It was estimated that there were eighty to one hundred cats and twenty dogs at this temporary shelter.
The Headwaters Relief Organization is the newly incorporated service organization of the Orion Associates, Meridian Services, Zenith Services, Orion Intermediary Services Organization family of companies. Headwaters continues the work begun by the “River of Hope” project in New Orleans and continued in Rushford, Minnesota, providing volunteers to serve others in the event of disasters, wherever and whenever needed.