In late August Decorah, Spillville, Elkader, and surrounding areas were hit with heavy rains that caused flash flooding.


The onslaught was swift and unexpected but Northeastern Iowa Synod congregation leaders and members were just as swift to respond with shelter, food, volunteers as well as working with Lutheran Services in Iowa to develop a relief fund for unmet needs.


Congregations and Pastors used Facebook to get the word out.

stpwav1 A month later more rain caused the Cedar, Shell Rock, and Wapsipinicon Rivers to flood the areas including Waverly, Janesville, Shell Rock, Clarksville, Plainfield, and Greene as well as the farms and hamlets in between.


Again local congregations sprang into action, providing volunteers to sandbag and clean up, meals to volunteers and donations of cleaning supplies.

Again, Social Media was crucial in getting the word out quickly to gather volunteers to respond.



Pastor Dan Flucke had barely been in his first call out of seminary at St. Peter in Greene when flooding forced evacuations and school closures.  Some streets were covered with up to 2 feet of water.  The church was spared all but some water in the basement so they opened their church up to allow the local newspaper, the Greene Recorder to set up shop in the church conference room.


When told he was doing a good job, Pastor Flucke noted “I haven’t really done anything.  The people here just get things done!”

Redeemer Lutheran in Waverly brought meals to feed volunteers at St. Peter in Greene one night and then the next night brought meals to feed workers at Faith Lutheran in Shell Rock.



Clarksville experienced some of the worst flooding when the levee broke.  With the help of Red Cross, St. John is still serving lunch and dinner for workers and anyone who is affected by the flood.

They are also a distribution center for cleaning supplies.  The high school football team moved the food pantry into the church.  Bethany Lutheran from Iowa Falls delivered clean up kits to St. John.



Messiah Lutheran, Janesville, remained open until 10 pm during the worst of the flooding to provide whatever help people needed.  They also served meals to workers.


Faith, Shell Rock, packed 150 lunch bags and delivered them to those who were filling and stacking sandbags in preparation for the flooding.

As Charles City prepared for flooding, their football team was scheduled to play the Homecoming game at Independence. Immanuel used Facebook to get the word out to bring cleaning supplies to the game for the Charles City football team to take back with them.  The supplies were then distributed at St. John in Charles City.


St. John in Cedar Falls worked with North Cedar Elementary Principal, Jennifer Hartman, to help people in the evacuation area, sandbag and distribute food.  They also worked with the police department to deliver food.


They used text messages and Facebook to alert members.  When the word got out, non-member parents of the church pre-school students and other members of the community came out to help as well.  Enough food was collected to fill two rooms at the police station.


“Folks responded to the invitation to do God’s work with our hands,” noted Pastor David Kebschull.

Nazareth, Cedar Falls, used Facebook to thank their members and all of the community for coming together to help out in time of need.


Pastor Brian King shared a prayer on his Facebook feed.


Both Luther and Wartburg students came out to help prepare and clean up in their flooded areas.




Northeastern Iowa folk have always come together in time of need.

Social media makes it easier to get the word out, network and respond in even faster and more efficient ways.



If you would like to donate to the relief effort send check to

Lutheran Services in Iowa

Attn: 2016 Iowa Flood Relief

106 16th Street SW

PO Box 848

Waverly, IA 50677


You can also give online.

Use the drop down option to designate to 2016 Iowa Flood Relief.




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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


Digital Ministry


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