Police and AmeriCorps help Dubuque flood victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police and AmeriCorps help Dubuque flood victims


In response to the city's call for volunteers, four Dubuque police officers and three AmeriCorps members volunteered their time Wednesday afternoon at flood victims' homes.

"We've got some styrofoam, insulation," Cpl. Travis Kramer said, holding a pile of water-soaked materials in his blue-gloved hands. "This house has a lot of water damage. Pretty much everything in the basement is a total loss, so it's pulling up some carpet. Getting out some water-soaked and damaged items to help out."

He and his fellow volunteers spent the afternoon helping at two houses on Jackson Street.

"The city allows its employees to do some volunteer work during our regular work day, just to increase volunteerism throughout the city," Kramer said.

The city of Dubuque, in fact, put out a request last week for volunteers to help clean up the homes of flood victims.

Mary Bridget Corken works for the city's Leisure Services department and is the volunteer services coordinator.

"We are focusing on people who are elderly, people with disabilities and low-income individuals, who may not have the resources to get a mover to move out things like that or have other people that can help them out in that way," she said.

The city has fielded about 50 requests for help, including one from homeowner Brenda Petsch.

"With my husband's heart trouble, he can't be running up and down the stairs, so this is great to come and be able to have volunteers do this for us," Petsch said. "It's a wonderful thing. I thank them."

Petsch's dirt-floor basement became inundated with flood water in the storm two weeks ago.

"It is stressful," Petsch said. "It's stressful all the way around, but with the help, now, with volunteers and then knowing that you can get on a list and get some other financial help, possibly, that's a weight off your shoulders."

Helping with the financial burden is the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, along with Mystique Casino and Diamond Jo Casino. The three are going in together on a $100,000 matching grant program for flood victims.

"We are announcing Disaster Relief 2011," Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque president and CEO Nancy Van Milligen said.

Project concern will help distribute the money, so people in need of flood recovery financial assistance are encouraged to call 2-1-1.

"The one challenge is, it's so invisible, because we aren't seeing it as we drive down the streets, because it's really in people's houses: their foundations, their basements and their possessions all having been ruined," Van Milligen said.

It's damage Petsch knows firsthand.

"There was some piping and some carpeting, and there's a hot water heater," she said, of the contents of her flooded basement.

Until dollars become available, volunteers are cleaning the way toward recovery.

There are many ways to donate to the Disaster Relief 2011 fund.

"On Friday, there will be all kinds of opportunities," Van Milligen said. "They'll be able to walk into any financial institution in town - which says so much about our community: all of our banks and credit unions have stepped up - and there will be bell-ringers with salvation buckets all over at many different retails establishments."

She said this isn't just help for Dubuque.

"This is also Jo Daviess County and Dubuque County and possibly even Grant County. We are collecting money for the Tri-State region," Van Milligen said. "A lot of the folks across the river really got hit hard."

For more information on how to donate, including a radio-a-thon, click HERE.

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