Our Work Doesn't Stop

Catie, her husband Chris, their three children, and Chris’s mother fled their home on March 16 as floodwaters rose in Pacific Junction, Iowa. They wouldn’t see the house again for nearly a month—and even then, they could only reach it by boat.

What they saw was devastating. More than 12 feet of water had inundated the house, ruining the finished basement and standing four feet deep in the upper level. “There wasn’t much left to save,” Catie recalled.

Living in close quarters in a travel trailer—the only shelter available—the family was unsure what to do next. Then a friend told them to contact the IOCC teams working in the area, and IOCC scheduled an assessment to determine first steps. Once the floodwaters had receded, the arduous work of mucking out began. An IOCC Emergency Action Team deployed to Chris and Catie’s home to remove waterlogged furniture, flooring, walls, and possessions. The couple worked alongside them.

“All the volunteers were so positive, so conscious of us,” Catie said. “Even after we’d told them we had everything out that we needed, they always asked us about things they thought might have emotional value, might be something we’d want. They were great.”

Restoration has begun, although it will be a long process to completely rebuild. But Catie and Chris are determined. “Once we got everything out, started tearing into the walls, it became a matter of rebuilding,” Catie said. “This is our forever home, and we’re going to make it our forever home again.”

Catie and Chris’s story is one shared by thousands of our neighbors who are still working to rebuild their lives. This year’s Midwest floods are among the latest disasters to hit the US in recent years, causing billions of dollars in damages.

Disaster response starts with preparation and continues, in many cases, for years with the work of recovery. IOCC teams are there for both early response and longer-term efforts to help communities rebuild. Whether it’s the parishes that train for emergencies and open their doors through IOCC’s Orthodox Homefront as shelters or distribution centers; or the Orthodox Frontline, a group of highly trained, credentialed, and experienced Orthodox clergy and laity that provide emotional and spiritual care; or IOCC’s Emergency Action and Home Build Teams, IOCC and its volunteers remain committed to helping families and communities prepare for disaster and respond. The work doesn’t stop.

To join an IOCC Home Build Team, visit iocc.org/homebuild.

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