When the floodwaters first hit the Columbus area, Kaye Eicher wanted to help those in need but didn't know how.
Then she heard about Church in Action (CIA), a grassroots initiative intended to help those affected by the disaster. Today, she is the Columbus church collective's administrator.
“I felt moved,” Eicher said. “I just thought there was something I can do to help and use my skills.”
So far, nine churches have joined the group. Participating churches include St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1C Church, Connection Christian Church, Peace Lutheran Church, Word of Life Community Church, St Luke's United Church of Christ, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and Federated Church. Despite all the volunteers belonging to different congregations, Eicher said they are working together as a single unit.
“To me, we’re all one church,” Eicher said. “It’s not a 1C Church effort. It’s not a Connection Christian Church effort. It’s one church - the body of Christ - going out and doing this work.”
The Rev. Mike Moser of Connection Christian Church said the group has set up a distribution center at 4300 23rd St. in Columbus. The center has received donations of pallets of water, cleaning supplies, shovels, brooms and toiletries from places as far as Virginia and Florida.
To aid Columbus, a donation drive was organized in McCook which brought in a truckload of supplies. These items are free for any flood victim to take. The hours of the center are 4-7 p.m Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
“It’s definitely a collaboration of the different churches,” Moser said about CIA. “Really taking care of our community in the surrounding area.”
Lori Woosley-Uden is a team leader with the group and said its efforts so far have been limited to supply distribution. However, today will be the group’s first opportunity to help with the physical cleanup of flood damage basements, tearing down drywall and spraying for mold. The group is also working to provide moral support to flood victims along with coordinating with youth groups to organize mission trips to flood-affected areas.
“So far it’s been incredible,” Woosley-Uden said about the volunteer effort. “The hearts of the people that want to help are all in the right place. We are coming at it from a faith-based perspective and we want to help our friends and neighbors and strangers in the community.”
For those interested in joining in the volunteering effort, the organization is hosting a recruitment drive at 5 p.m. on Sunday at 1C Church, 2200 28th Ave., Columbus. For more information on Church in Action, visit www.floodreliefne.org.
“Our mission is to serve and help people,” Woosley-Uden said. “So if you have a passion to be involved in the recovery effort, please come on Sunday and find out how you can serve.”
Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.