Two years after record flooding struck Cedar Rapids, another 14 families moved back into their refurbished homes today. Hundreds of volunteers from churches across the continent spent the past six weeks focused on rebuilding the cluster of houses in the eastern Iowa city. Matt Hackworth, spokesman for Church World Service, says it’s a thrill to hand the keys back to the homeowners.
“Today’s celebration is a big deal for us because this is what it’s all about, helping families return back to their homes,” Hackworth says. “We returned 14 Cedar Rapids families back to their homes so they can begin to put the flood behind them and go on with their lives.” He says the volunteers devoted about 9,000 hours of labor to this neighborhood restoration effort in the past month-and-a-half.
“The 36 member communions of Church World Service managed to bring together around 400 volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada,” Hackworth says. “Mainly, the volunteers worked one-week shifts so we got a new crop of volunteers every Sunday that were happy to help repair homes here in Cedar Rapids.”
Today’s ceremony was held outside the repaired home of a retired couple who have spent the past two years living in a small apartment. Hackworth says they were elated to return to their home and neighborhood of more than 40 years after it was inundated by the 2008 floods.
“Cedar Rapids is certainly still a city in recovery,” Hackworth says. “There’s still quite a bit of work to be done. You can drive along the streets and see that. We’re hoping that this project at least helps be a catalyst so that some of these homes and the recovery work can proceed, hopefully at a more expeditious pace.”
Based on more than 60 years of experience, Church World Service has a mandate to provide long-term recovery assistance for the most vulnerable who are impacted by disasters.
For more information, visit “www.churchworldservice.org“.