Sep 022009

By Celine Klosterman

More than 75 percent of the $300,000 the Davenport Diocese has received for relief from the 2008 floods has gone out to help survivors.

Just last week the diocese sent funds to the long-term recovery committee in Cedar County, which includes the city of Tipton. That committee began letting survivors apply for financial help July 8.

Denise Schneckloth, case manager for the committee, said the donation could go toward survivors as well as administrative costs. 

In Wapello County, which includes the city of Ottumwa, a summer donation from the diocese has so far gone toward hiring a case manager to work with families who may file for unmet needs grants, said Patsy Seals. She is secretary of the county’s long term recovery committee, whose members she said had begun organizing by January. 

Early donations from the diocese went to long-term recovery committees in Johnson, Scott, Muscatine, Des Moines and Louisa counties, said Glenn Leach, a volunteer in the diocese’s social action department who’s coordinating diocesan flood relief efforts. Those committees formed not long after the floods, but the diocese reserved some funds for flood-affected counties whose committees didn’t form until more recently.

It will distribute remaining funds to existing committees soon if no more new committees appear to be organizing, Leach said.

Cedar County’s committee of roughly a dozen people started forming in March, said Tim Malott, director of Cedar County Emergency Management Agency and 911. Unlike other counties, it lacked pre-existing structure to help with disaster relief, Leach said. At the time of the flood, Muscatine County already had a committee operating from a previous disaster. Scott and Johnson counties had Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster that they could build on for recovery efforts.

“Part of (the delay) was the learning process,” Schneckloth added.

Now that the committee’s in place, it will be able to help people affected by future disasters besides the flood, she noted.

The committee and others like it work to fulfill needs remaining after disaster survivors have already received funds from FEMA, insurance and other sources. State funds provide grants of up to $2,500 per household, and donations from the diocese and other organizations offer further help. 

Besides going to such committees, some funds the diocese received also have gone to various foundations to help flood survivors in southeast Iowa, Leach said.

The diocese’s funds have come from individual donors, the Diocese of Sioux City, Diocese of Des Moines, Archdiocese of Dubuque, Catholic Charities and other organizations. Leach said that last week the Des Moines Diocese gave its second donation since December to the Davenport Diocese; the recent gift was $7,900 out of a roughly $16,000 donation the Des Moines Diocese received from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Because the Des Moines Diocese had completed casework with flood survivors, it passed on the donation to the Davenport Diocese and Archdiocese of Dubuque, Trish Radke said. She is the public relations and fundraising event coordinator for Catholic Charities in Des Moines.

Donations continue as survivors’ needs continue. “The need does not go away just because (the flood) is no longer in the headlines,” Leach said. “If you have lost your home and all your possessions, it takes awhile to get back on your feet.”

To apply for unmet needs grants, people who suffered a disaster-related loss from May 24 to Aug. 14, 2008, in counties declared presidential disaster areas should contact the long-term recovery committee in their area. Apply with the committee that covers where you lived during the disaster.

To find the office in your area, visit or call the Iowa Concern Hotline at (800) 447-1985.

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