CWS ECUMENICAL REBUILD: Cedar Rapids, IA Final Update 7/13/2010

CWS ECUMENICAL REBUILD: Cedar Rapids, IA Final Update 7/13/2010



 ^ Watch video of CWS Rebuild in Cedar Rapids, IA ^



CWS Ecu-Build Re-cap that took place April 11 - May 21, 2010



Church World Service brought together over 10 churches and agencies to join disaster recovery efforts active since major flooding destroyed huge parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in June, 2008.


Running through the heart of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River crested at 31.12 feet on June 13, 2008.  This is more than 19 feet above flood stage and 24 feet above the average water level.  The devastating flood affected more than 5,000 residences, more than 1,000 business and nearly 500 non-profit organizations and churches.  The downtown district, home to historic buildings, a thriving business community, and many city and county services, was decimated by the flood waters.  Unfortunately many of the neighborhoods most affected were home to some of Cedar Rapids’ most vulnerable families.

View video - Cedar Rapids, Iowa Summer 2008 - "In Deep Water

Iowa 'ecu-build' modeled on success in New Orleans. Church World Service will bring volunteers and resources from across the U.S. and Canada to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 11 through May 21, 2010. . . 



From a Volunteer Coordinator's Perspective
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Our project is home to a couple with three kids.  It was nicely done before the flood and we plan to make it even better and complete in six weeks.  Check out the pictures and the fancy woodwork.  I plan to refinish it and reuse the old stuff as much as possible.  This project is "as seen on TV", "This Old House".

Another great week of progress and fellowship here in Cedar Rapids!  The week started out slowly with only four of us.  Then the "calvary" arrived on Tuesday in the form of a great group of young, experienced Lutherns from Minnesota.  They, combined with the two guys that were here last week, made for a very productive week.  We had a couple of significant setbacks but are on schedule!  Our task was to remove the damaged hardwood floor in the kitchen and dining room.  Then we discovered the subfloor was in poor condition and it was removed.  That revealed floor joists that were unattached, rotten and unsafe.  No big deal for our crew.  It was replaced and it is ready for the new floor!

One of our social highlights occurred on Tuesday evenings when St. Wenceslaus Catholic church hosts the crews for a meal served by various churches in Cedar Rapids.  It is a beautiful church that experienced basement flooding.  It was rebuilt by volunteers and we now meet in that facility.  They have a beautiful garden that features a statue of St. Wenceslaus that was carved in Czech Republic 15 years ago.  (There are a large number of Czechs in this area.)

It is a rainy and cool weekend; great for catching up on the laundry and kickin' back.  Our high school friend and her husband have invited us to their home for dinner.  They are both retired from teaching careers here in Cedar Rapids.  On Sunday we go the UCC Association meeting at Eden UCC.  Eden UCC was in the flood and the whole bottom was flooded out, but they are now back up and running.  Oddly enough, our home that we are working on is right across the street.

Another great week here with much accomplished.  I included some week 1 pictures so you can see where we started four short weeks ago.  This week we put down a recycled wood floor in the dining room, vinyl flooring in the kitchen, added 20 gallons of paint to the walls, primed an acre or so of trim wood, attached some of it, and stripped all the wood to be finished naturally.  We enjoyed a fun lunch at the "Flying Weinie" and four sunny days.  Today it is cold (45 F) with rain.  Since we didn't have room for all 13 of us in the house today, the crew from Nashville departed early this morning.  Pray for them to be strong in the upcoming weeks.

The house is becoming very bright and is taking on a more finished appearance.  I have a small crew on Saturday and we hope to sand the hardwood floors.  This will be a multi-step finishing process.  Next week, there are only 32 CWS volunteers for all of the houses.

When I look back at what you have accomplished in four weeks, I am AMAZED!!!!  You guys are the greatest.

This was one BIG week!  It was good to see all of our friends from Bethlehem UCC in Evansville here in Cedar Rapids.  As usual, they did an outstanding job attending to the detail finish work.  All of the floors were stripped and prepped for the contractor to finish, windows, trim and baseboards were installed as were most of the kitchen cabinets.  On Saturday, two smaller groups cleaned up the yard, finished up the floor sanding and washed the house so that we can begin painting it on Monday.  While Anthony (home owner) and his two teenage children peaked into the windows, one of them exclaimed, "Whose house is this?"  It has under gone a real change in the past five weeks.  They were delighted that we found the "Welcome Fairy" under several inches of dirt on the patio.

The weather forecast looks favorable for us to do exterior painting this week while the floor finisher has us locked out of the house for his work.  There will be a house dedication this week and the Church World Service project will wrap up.  Pam and I are tired but feel blessed to have been part of this very rewarding and exciting project. 




Thanks for your commitment and service.




How can I thank all of you that contributed so much to make this old house a beautiful home for the Caston family. It seemed the right people with just the right skills showed up when I needed them. I thought we would never find the right crew (or weather) to climb up 30' to paint the house and we did it with a group of dedicated Lutherans the last week. When the crew tore up the old flooring to reveal a rotten sub-floor and then tore that out revealing floor joists that were marginal, I never dreamed it would be replaced by a beautiful floor. Seeing the children 'skate" on the newly finsihed floors made it all worth while. The attention to detail in the drywall, painting and finish work are worthy of the most expensive homes in Cedar Rapids.

The only things left to do are the installation of the kitchen counter top (on order) and painting of the concrete porch. Electricians and plumbers should finish their work this week.

I hope that we meet again. It was my honor to work with each of you.








Contact Info

Mary Schaller Blaufuss
Team Leader, Global Sharing of Resources
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115