A May tornado flattened much of the northeast Iowa town of Parkersburg. Soon after, June storms flooded major portions of Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa. Both storms affected the lives of many of the 27,000 Christian Reformed Church members who live in Iowa.
Richard and Ethel Mulder, both 80, died in the May tornado. They were members of Parkersburg CRC. Three other community residents also lost their lives.
Fifteen members of the congregation lost their homes, and the homes of six more sustained varying degrees of damage, reported the Parkersburg Area Rapid Response Team.
Retired Parkersburg CRC pastor Rev. Frank Pott’s house suffered major damage. Pott and his wife, Betty, rode out the tornado in their basement.
“One thought that kept running through my mind was 1 Kings 19—God speaking to Elijah in a still, small voice and my feeling that God does take care of us,” he said. “Through it all our dependence upon God has grown as we marvel at his power to control even such a storm.”
The same storm affected two other nearby Christian Reformed congregations. Two members from Lincoln Center CRC in Grundy Center, Iowa, and one family from Austinville (Iowa) CRC lost their homes.
In Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, record flooding destroyed the homes of two more CRC families.
None of the denomination’s 103 church buildings in flood-affected areas was damaged.
Volunteer managers for Disaster Response Services of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee are coordinating local church and community responses in both areas.
“When you add these recent floods with the tornadoes this spring,” said Disaster Response Director Bill Adams, “we’re talking about a disaster with the combined effect of Hurricane Katrina. This will be a long-term response.”