Two Rotarians who lost just about everything
Top, Serena Ward gets emotional as she surveys the remains of her home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA. Bottom, Amy Tucker looks over a map of flooding with John Tursi, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Rapids. Photos by Alyce Henson/Rotary Images
Flood-weary, shocked, and devastated after losing everything, Amy Tucker and Serena Ward can't imagine where they would be without the collective support of fellow Rotary club members.
Tucker and Ward, of the Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids-Hiawatha Metro North, Iowa, USA, have assessed the monetary damage that surging floodwaters inflicted on their homes and belongings in June. It's the emotional toll and fatigue that can't be calculated.
"Rotary has been wonderful," said Tucker. "They have really made a difference. Their support helps ease the heart and ease the mind."
"Once we knew about Serena and Amy, the first thing our club did was pass around the hat for money," said Mark Shelton, a fellow club member. "We'll be there with them every step of the way."
Club members also helped out by giving them money and gift cards to buy basic household items. One member donated furniture as well.
After being ordered to evacuate, Tucker waited more than a week before the city let her go home, only to find there was no home to go back to. She had left with only one bag of clothes. The rest of her belongings were destroyed by the flood.
"The toughest part is starting all over again," she said. "The little necessities you take for granted, like even a pizza cutter, are the things you don't think about getting. It quickly reminds you of what you don't have."
Compounding her misery, Tucker broke her foot while cleaning up a local Boys and Girls Club and mangled the front end of her car after hitting a deer.
"I'm focusing on the good rather than the bad. I'm still here and relatively healthy," she joked, showing off her large foot brace.
Tucker is temporarily living with her mother but plans to move into an apartment the Federal Emergency Management Agency found for her. Though she feels grateful for the unit, the stark reality is that there's nothing to put into it.
"My club has been so generous with their support and time," she said. "I'm so lucky to be a Rotarian."
Ward said fellow club members also have helped her by making the reconstruction process easier.
"They have been like a second family to me and my family," she said. "The way they have come together to contribute their time to help us rebuild has been fabulous. I would not be as strong as I am now without them."
Little by little
Ward, her husband, and their three kids are now living with her mother. She and her husband tried to save as much as they could during the first couple of days of the flood, but they didn't manage much more than food and their children's clothes.
Though Ward said she can live with the destruction of many things, the loss of irreplaceable items such as her son's baby book are harder to take.
Nevertheless, she said, "we will rebuild. Faith, hope, and love have given me strength. I have all of those with Rotary."
Although it could be a long road toward recovery, the formula is simple, says Shelton.
"If everyone can give a little, we can accomplish a lot."
How you can help
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation opened the Flood 2008 Fund on 15 June. The Flood 2008 Fund is for flood relief and recovery donations. One-hundred percent of financial donations to the fund will support response, recovery and rebuilding efforts throughout the Cedar Rapids-metro and surrounding communities.
See a slideshow of Cedar Rapids damage and relief efforts.