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UUA districts in Midwest raise funds for flood relief

Churches stay dry, but some Unitarian Universalists lose homes.
By Donald E. Skinner

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Iowa flood

Houses in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, stand flooded June 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)

Two Midwest districts in the Unitarian Universalist Association have set up funds to help district families recover from the severe flooding that took place the second week of June. The Prairie Star District and the Heartland District will be raising and distributing money to flood-affected congregants, largely in Iowa and Indiana.

Most seriously affected was the UU Society of Iowa City, Iowa, where about 15 UU families, including the congregation’s minister, the Rev. Nancy Haley, lost their homes to flooding, said Nancy Heege, Prairie Star District executive. Haley and several other families had moved all their belongings out before flooding occurred. Other families lost nearly everything. The congregation’s building was threatened but escaped damage. The congregation took the precaution of moving items from the basement to a higher level and sandbagging the building.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where hundreds of city blocks were flooded, water came within a block of the Peoples Church UU. The congregation met for worship in an Episcopal church at the height of the flooding because their own building was inaccessible. “The flooding in the city was devastating . . . and many people’s lives will be affected,” Heege said. “Some of those whose homes were not flooded may lose their jobs.”

The homes of three UU families in Columbus, Ind., were flooded, said the Rev. Dennis McCarty of the UU Congregation of Columbus. Some members of the First UU Congregation of Terre Haute, Ind., also had flood damage to their homes, said Nancy Combs-Morgan, acting district executive in the Heartland District. The Terre Haute congregation still managed to install new minister the Rev. Amy Kindred in the midst of the flooding.

The Open Circle UU Fellowship in Fond du Lac, Wisc., reported that it had six inches of water in the lower level of its new building, but that damage was minimal since the congregation was preparing to move into the space and there was no furniture, wallboard, or carpets to be damaged.

For current information on flood losses and to offer aid to affected congregations, including cleanup and recovery, go to the websites of the Prairie Star District, psduua.org, and the Heartland District, heartlanduu.org.

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