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Relentless rain in Midwest

After relentless rainstorms hit the Upper Midwest during the week of Aug. 19-25 flood waters have caused millions of dollars of damage to homes in Ohio Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Photo by Elder Gary ReedWearing Helping Hands T-shirts Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in Ohio stand with homeowner second from right after offering assistance and cleaning.
Photo by Elder Gary ReedPresident Kenneth V. Peterson of the Ohio Cleveland Mission joins clean-up effort after flooding devastated nine counties in the state Aug. 24. The Church donated relief supplies and volunteers went to work in the area.
Labeled the worst flooding incident in Ohio since 1913 the events led to a visit by President Bush who approved an emergency disaster declaration for six counties in the state allowing residents to seek federal aid.
Water levels from the Blanchard River rose 7 feet above flood stage in Findlay Ohio where Bishop Vincent Hermann-Heinrich Jones presides over the Findlay Ward of the Toledo Ohio Stake.
Bishop Jones said few members were affected with most experiencing flooded basements at worst.
Local chapters of the United Way and Red Cross immediately organized to assist in relief efforts but had little experience in creating a template for relief in flood situations.
With our experience as a Church from the Katrina incident and having learned the lessons from that we had a pretty good idea what to do to create a system and an organization to quickly respond said Bishop Jones who was asked by local authorities to take charge of organizing the relief efforts.
Under the direction of stake president Dennis R. Smith the Toledo stake arranged day and evening shifts for members to assist with taking down walls insulation and in some homes stripping away everything but the studs.
Of course there are hazards said Bishop Jones. Were dealing with all the basic debris youd expect from any demolition job except then you mix in the nice brown water and youve got the picture.
Members are dedicating hours of work wearing yellow T-shirts bearing the Helping Hands logo.
A young man in Ottawa the area hardest hit was seeking help for his home. When our folks arrived said Bishop Jones he was very touched. He said that when he saw the sea of yellow shirts coming toward him he just sat there and bawled.
Thousands of cleaning kits have been donated by the Church as well as financial aid to the local United Way and the Red Cross chapters which have been helping with food and general assistance.
Members joined their efforts with the local Lutheran church to help them as they try to provide food and water right out of their kitchen said Bishop Jones.
Sixty-two missionaries from the Ohio Cleveland Mission were dispatched to help with cleanup efforts for the rest of the week and have been allowed to use facilities at Findlay University while they reside at the Findlay LDS meetinghouse.
As members work with city officials relief organizations and other religious groups Bishop Jones said it is a great thing to see because it really shows you what this Church is all about.
E-mail to: cmorales@desnews.com

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