AMES, Iowa (BP)–Volunteers were mobilized from five Southern Baptist Churches on Thursday, August 12 to assist with water distribution in the City of Ames, Iowa. Flooding in the city caused a major disruption in this city of approximately 50,000 persons, the home of Iowa State University. Streets and businesses were flooded and a mobile home park was submerged along Duff Avenue, in the south part of the city. Athletic facilities on the Campus of Iowa State University were flooded, including the basketball stadium. The water system was polluted by flood waters after several key water mains broke during street flooding. Most of the city is currently under a boil order and the water is not safe for drinking or bathing unless it is boiled.
Supplies of bottled water available at retailers became scarce almost immediately as the boil order went into effect. Local emergency officials are arranging for five water distribution points throughout the city and each person is being given one gallon of water.
Baptist Convention of Iowa officials worked with the City of Ames to arrange for volunteers from Ames area Southern Baptist churches to help provide some relief for those city officials and employees who have been staffing the water distribution sites. As of Thursday afternoon, the volunteers were lined up to assist and officials expected a need for further volunteers each day until next Tuesday when the water system is expected to be back in full operation.
Roads are closed in several areas of the town, making travel difficult. Interstate 35 is closed south of Ames, between the city and Des Moines, 30 miles away.
Some flooding is also occurring in Des Moines and in Colfax, Iowa. There is some danger of Interstate 80 being closed at Colfax as well.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Baptist Convention of Iowa disaster relief unit had not been activated, but officials were asking volunteers to be on alert in case a call-up is needed.
Richard Nations is the church health team leader for the Baptist Convention of Iowa and publications editor for The Iowa Baptist.