Des Moines RRT Team Supports Flooding Prevention in Palo, Iowa
On the evening of September 21, a wide area of Northern Iowa was flooded with rain where some areas experienced 9 inches of rainfall in less than 5 hours. This caused a lot of flash flooding in some rural areas of Northern Iowa, and for these folks, there was no time to prepare. However, all this water had to move downstream, and the Cedar River Valley was told to be prepared for flooding all the way to the Mississippi River. The Des Moines Rapid Relief Team concentrated on the areas that had time to prepare further downstream as little could be done for those that had already been flooded out.
On Saturday morning with about one hours’ notice, 24 volunteers gave up there plans for what promised to be the last warm weekend of the summer and headed two hours east from Des Moines to the town of Palo, IA. This town, just upstream from the much larger city of Cedar Rapids, had less resources than some of the larger cities and was asking for volunteers to assist over 100 households who had been ordered to evacuate by Sunday night.
The RRT team of 24 willing volunteers joined a lot of local townspeople at the city hall and began sandbagging. Many locals came and went throughout the day and many of those who came to get sandbags pitched in while they were waiting so the total number of those who helped was quite high but most of the time there were about 100 people on hand. There were two working areas set up to fill sandbags for any local residents and businesses that needed them. Each sand pile consisted of about 180 tons of sand (refilled throughout the day in 30-ton loads) The RRT team shoveled about 90 tons of sand in just four hours.
After having shoveled sand and tied the loaded sandbags for about four hours, RRT continued into the neighborhoods that were evacuating and went house to house helping with stacking sandbags, moving appliances, and doing whatever else needed to be done. One woman came out of her house to take pictures of all the strangers who were working alongside of her son-in-law helping sandbag her house and was surprised when she realized the RRT volunteers had driven all the way from Des Moines just to help people in an unfamiliar small town.
When it seemed that all was ready in the town on late Saturday afternoon, the volunteers packed up and headed for home worn out but filled with joy that can only come by helping others. The Rapid Relief Team volunteers were grateful to be a part of an organization that supports the community in time of need.
The houses and businesses were spared from catastrophic flooding in the town of Palo. The chairman of the city council thanked the RRT volunteers for coming and said he really appreciated the work of that “big group that came all the way from Des Moines”