AmeriCorps member Peter Della Porta shares his experience assisting with flood recovery in SW Iowa
“Assisting with the Flood Cleanup in South Western Iowa was certainly a highlight of my AmeriCorps service term and an incredible experience. It was awesome to work together with the different AmeriCorps Teams and to see the appreciation on the faces of people we were helping.
Our first stop on our trip to South Western Iowa was Percival, Iowa who was having a two day debris removal event. When we arrived we had checked in with Molly from the NCCC who helped set our trip up and was incredibly helpful the whole time we were there. After checking in, the people of Percival insisted that we be fed lunch that they provided. While we were quickly eating lunch in their church, the volunteers from Percival were telling us about how grateful they were of the work AmeriCorps was doing in their community. After lunch we got to work with the NCCC and the Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps Teams clearing debris from the firehouse. When people work hard together towards a common goal there is an instant and natural connection made even if the groups of people don’t know each other. Between the three AmeriCorps groups we cleared out the debris from the firehouse in a very timely fashion and swept through the rest of town before the day was over.
After working in Percival we went to where the ADRT were staying at First United Methodist Church in Shenandoah, Iowa. They were very inviting and provided us with a large room and each a blow up mattress. They also invited us to their team meeting at 7:00 am the next morning. When we woke up we went their meeting in the Amory. Although it was brief it was nice to learn about the different AmeriCorps programs that we were working with and what daily operations looked like for them.
After the meeting was adjourned our Green Iowa team was sent back to Percival to assist an elderly man named Jim and his wife remove mud from their basement. When we got to Jim’s house there was about 6 inches of mud in their basement. In what was supposed to be an all morning task, our team with buckets and shovels, cleared out the entire basement in under an hour. Jim and his wife were very grateful and appreciative of our work. We were then sent to Pacific Junction to clean out a garage that had over 7ft of water in it. Everything in the garage was destroyed and needed to be removed. Again our team worked very hard and cleared the entire garage in under an hour, which was much sooner than expected.
When we finished with the garage we briefly broke for lunch and headed over to a part of Pacific Junction where the homes were completely destroyed by the flooding. There we met up with the NCCC and Habitat for Humanity teams to help muck and gut a house. The mucking and gutting was hard work. We did 30 minute on and 30 minute off shifts and were working in 95°F heat wearing Tyvek suits. Our three groups worked hard, bonded, and made great progress on the house. We worked for three shifts, until 4PM. After cleaning up we said our good byes, headed back to Cedar Falls, and our trip was over.
Working to help the communities affected by the flooding was one of many amazing experience I had working for AmeriCorps and is something that I and the other Green Iowa members who participated will take with us where ever we go.”
For more photos, videos and updates regarding the continued cleanup efforts in SW Iowa, please visit Volunteer Iowa or follow us @VolunteerIowa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.