A Hero of the Iowa Floods–by Vicki Escarra

 

By Vicki Escarra–President and CEO of America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network
 
This past June, after Midwest flooding had reached residents all along the Cedar River, I visited the Northeast Iowa Food Bank—our member food bank in Waterloo, Iowa—to assess our recovery efforts. I travelled all through the affected areas and couldn’t believe the damage that was left in the aftermath of the floods. Residents told me it was the worst flooding they had ever seen. It was during these travels that I had the privilege of meeting one very heroic individual—Steve Mitchell, the Fire Chief for the Fire Department in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

When I met him, he was in the midst of operating an emergency-relief center for flood victims, which he had set-up in partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank at a nearby elementary school. It was his idea to turn the school into an emergency-relief center, and he did everything in his power to make it a powerful resource for flood victims. As the waters began to rise, Steve had gone door to door notifying residents in areas that he and his firefighters knew were at risk of flooding. Then, as the flooding worsened, he and his fellow firefighters traveled by boat to rescue those who were stranded. His compassion was truly remarkable.

The need for emergency food always immediately follows a natural disaster. Steve’s relief center was open for 10 days, for up to 12 hours a day, and served food, water and cleaning supplies to nearly 5,000 people from more than five cities. With his dedication and the support of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, he helped those men, women, and families survive incredibly difficult times. Please join me in thanking Steve, and the countless other brave volunteers across the country, who give everything they have to help people in need.