6,000 Hours of Work Later, Volunteers Still Helping Metro Residents After Flash Flooding

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It's been two weeks since severe flash flooding hit the Des Moines metro. Residents are still trying to get damaged property out of their houses.

“One of the couches was one of the last things my mother brought us who is deceased now, she's been gone for about 13 years, so, hard to let it go,” said Carnatta Spencer.

Like many metro residents, Spencer's basement was a total loss. With about a foot and a half of standing water from the floods, everything has to go.

“What are we gonna do now, how are we going to get this stuff out of here?” she wondered.

That’s when the cavalry was called in.  Unable to lift or move the heavier items, Spencer called Polk County Emergency Management, which sent her a group of volunteers, many from the New Sharon Fire Department.

“I kinda look at it like, you know, what if it happened to me someday, you know, it'd be nice if someone showed up to help,” said Spencer.

Tim Nance is a former Oskaloosa firefighter who often volunteers his time with New Sharon. The group had also volunteered after the Texas flooding, and now they get to help fellow Iowans.

“We had a gal up north of Ankeny that said she was 92 and there was nothing she could do, just sit there and watch it, and now she's home by herself, and you try to help her the best you can,” said Nance.

Others have answered the call for help, as well. Polk County Emergency Management says so far they've gotten 6,000 hours of volunteer work. When they do the calculations, it works out to over $150,000 worth of free labor. For people like Spencer who are already dealing with insurance and replacing their property, it's been a godsend.

“It's just sad as you drive by and look at everyone's curbs looking like ours, it's pretty sad, but it's great that there's volunteers out there that are willing and able to come and help people in need,” she said.

It's not just fire departments volunteering--there have been groups from Drake basketball, Ankeny football, religious organizations, and corporate volunteer groups.

If you would like to volunteer, call Polk County Emergency Management at 515-286-2154.