Midwest and Plains States Flooding from Ohio to Oklahoma

August 23, 2007

Reports are arriving from UCC Disaster Response Conference coordinators informing us of the status of UCC churches and members impacted by flooding. Conference Coordinators: Jim Ditzler (Ohio); Jim Peck (Minnesota); and Mike Lake and Will Best (Kansas-Oklahoma) have begun sending information – further reports are expected.

The United Church of Christ National Disaster Ministries office working with our UCC Conferences and ecumenically is seeking $100,000 to assist with long term recovery in Minnesota, Ohio, Kansas minimally – expectations are that needs will surface in Iowa and Wisconsin also.  These funds should be directed to the One Great Hour of Sharing special fund, Emergency USA, marked for 2007 summer floods.  Information on how to send funds is noted below. 

OHIO

Jim Ditzler has initially reported that at least two UCC churches have a few feet of water in their buildings; homes of members are being checked.  75 clean up kits have been sent to Findlay, and two dehumidifiers (owned by the Ohio Conference) are in use.

Much of Findlay was reported underwater as evacuations continued throughout yesterday. Some residents could be seen canoeing and kayaking through streets that had water waist deep. The Blanchard River was reported nearly 7 feet over flood stage.

A Red Cross shelter at St. Andrew's Methodist Church had to be evacuated with those who sought shelter there forced to relocate to another location.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland declared a state of emergency for Hancock, Allen, Crawford, Hardin, Putnam, Richland, Seneca, Van Wert and Wyandot counties. He said National Guard troops could be dispatched to the affected areas if requested.

Additionally, flood warnings were in effect across north-central and northwest Ohio. Those warnings were in effect until Thursday morning for Ashland, Crawford, Richland, Hancock and Wyandot counties.

Other parts of northern Ohio also remained underwater after heavy rains drenched the region Monday and Tuesday. Homes throughout the region were flooded and roads, including parts of Interstate 75, were closed due to high water.

Knox, Crawford, Richland and Wyandot counties in northern Ohio received 6 to 9 inches of rain in 24 hours starting Monday morning, which came on top of the 2 to 4 inches that fell over the weekend. Homes and businesses were flooded in the towns of Carey and Bucyrus, forcing evacuations and several boat rescues. At least 100 homes were reported flooded in Carey. The cities of Shelby and Mansfield were also dealing with high water.

MINNESOTA

Jim Peck has reported that no serious damage has been incurred by UCC churches, just small amounts of water in the basements.  Information about members is being gathered.

The American Red Cross and the Minnesota Department of Emergency Management estimated that the flooding affected 4,200 homes, with 256 of them destroyed and 338 suffering extensive damage. Some 475 other homes remained inaccessible

The water also came up quickly in Rushford, forcing residents onto their roofs to await rescues by boat.  One Rushford official estimated that one-third of the town's 1,800 residents experienced some type of damage.

Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty declared a state of emergency for Fillmore, Winona, Steele, Houston, Olmsted and Wabasha counties.  "Residents of this area have said these heavy rains and flooding are unlike anything they've ever seen before," Pawlenty said.

WISCONSIN

Lori Getters, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency (WEMA), estimated 700 or 800 homes were impacted by the flooding, with at least 50 destroyed.

"Mother nature has been really cruel to our state for the past three or four days," Getters said.

Flood concerns remained as more rain was forecast and rivers and creeks continued to rise.

Pam Brownlee, who visited affected Wisconsin counties Sunday and Monday, called the damage "devastating."

Brownlee, Coulee region district disaster coordinator for the United Methodist Church, said Vernon, Richland and Crawford counties had extensive damage, with the Crawford County towns of Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills seeing most of the impact. Viola in Vernon County also had damage.

"They're now worried about a dike possibly breaking in Gays Mills," Brownlee said.

Gotham in Richland County was evacuated Tuesday due to the rising Pine River. Officials reported $2.5 million in damage to homes and businesses across the county. Crawford County damages to the private sector were estimated at $8.7 million.

Crawford County emergency management officials said 25 homes were destroyed and another 175 damaged. In Vernon County, preliminary estimates showed 30 homes damaged and three destroyed.

WEMA officials said Tuesday they would seek a federal disaster declaration.

OKLAHOMA

Will Best and Mike Lake have reported that the UCC church in Kingfisher has not been impacted.  Communities are assessing individual home damages.

The storm left six people dead in Oklahoma. Flooding prompted a state of emergency for 24 Oklahoma counties.  Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster chairman Steve Moran said the members will meet this week to discuss a response. For now, members were busy with the immediate response and relief, he said.

Damage assessments continued Tuesday across the state. The Oklahoma Division of Emergency Management reported that some damage was caused by straight-line winds in Watonga.

The town of Kingfisher, about 49 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, appeared to be hardest hit as a nearby creek rose 25 feet and inundated much of the town. Kingfisher Mayor Steve Richards said the flood was the worst the city has seen since at least 1965.

Fort Cobb Emergency Management officials reported 50 to 100 homes affected by the flooding.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by floods.

2.  To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts payable to your congregation marked for "Emergency USA" with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.

OR

3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Emergency USA" to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church  Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

OR

4. Make a secure on-line donation https://secure3.convio.net/ucc/site/Donation2?df_id=1236&1236.donation=form1.

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