Flood Buckets Have ‘Everything We Need’
By Susan Meister*
July 1, 2008 —Teresa Daniels, a resident of Oakland Illinois, has a message for United Methodists who donate tools and cleaning supplies to fill five gallon pails for UMCOR Sager Brown and other distribution locations. "I love flood buckets!" she exclaimed.
Oakland, a rural community of about 1000 persons in east central Illinois in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, is 40 miles northwest of Terre Haute, Indiana. Although the town is miles away any major river, the twelve inches of rain that fell on June 7 backed up storm drains and homes flooded all over town.
"In eight days, we had a tornado, winds of 70 plus miles per hour, and the rain," Daniels said. "The water rose in about an hour—no one expected it. People just grabbed things and put them up."
Although the water did not come into Daniels' home, she and friend Terri Temples have been reaching out to neighbors who had flooding inside their houses.
"We called the ladies at the United Methodist and Christian churches," she said. "We gave them a list of people who needed meals and they served hot meals to over fifty people every night." The Oakland churches also operate a Community Food Pantry which distributed items to affected families.
Flood Buckets Have 'Everything We Need'
Chuck Shelquist, pastor of Oakland and Westfield UMCs, reports that member Jeff Standard contacted him about getting flood buckets. "He had heard of the buckets through our appeals for supplies and our reports of other areas where flood buckets have been used,"Shelquist explained.
Shelquist made the connection to Judy Doyle, disaster response coordinator, and Bunny Wolfe, missions and outreach coordinator. Buckets were shipped to Oakland on June 11 from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, Chatham, Illinois. "Teenagers and adults began distribution immediately after the buckets were delivered," he said.
In addition to those sent by the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, UMCOR has also sent thousands of flood buckets to the entire flood-affected region including Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
"The flood buckets have everything we need," Daniels said. "The rubber gloves, garbage bags, masks, extra rags... I've worn out that scrub brush—the mud sticks to everything.
"People don't understand," she continued. "You drive by and everything looks all right but you can't see the damage inside."
During the earlier high wind storm, falling tree limbs had downed a power pole supplying electricity to the local laundromat. "The laundrydetergent in the bucket sure came in handy," Daniels smiled. "One of our neighbors did fifty-three loads of laundry— everything got wet!"
Caring People 'Kept us Going and Gave us Hope'
"The flood buckets kept us going and gave us hope," Daniels concluded. "It meant so much that somebody outside out community cared enough to donate the items and deliver those buckets!"
The heavy rains that fell in Oakland are part of the weather pattern that caused flooding the same weekend in Indiana and subsequent flooding in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. When flood waters recede, the long and arduous process of clean up and recovery will begin all across the region. UMCOR is working with annual conference partners to prepare for the long term response.
United Methodists are urged to be part of the recovery by sending completed flood buckets, bulk materials or a contribution to purchase supplies. A list of contents is available here, or you can contribute $45 to UMCOR Material Resources Advance #901440.
"Our current supplies are dangerously low," explained Kathy Kraiza, director of UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, La. "We want to be fully prepared when the need arises. With generous donations now, we can be assured of being able to respond after the next flood or hurricane."
"To date we have sent over 5,000 flood buckets to areas around the Midwest," continued Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR executive. "We are preparing for volunteers and long term case management with our partners. This recovery will likely take years, and we need resources to undergird our response."
*Susan Meister is is the domestic disaster response correspondent for UMCOR