In June approximately 30,000 people were displaced by floods in eastern Iowa. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands need restoration, sit empty or have been abandoned. As the waters began to rise, Northwestern Media station Life 101.9 (KNWS) in Waterloo, Iowa, was answering the call to be a voice of information and encouragement to the flooded region.
Dan Raymond, KNWS program manager, said the communication went beyond standard severe weather alerts. “We kept up a regular stream of FEMA information, as well as information from city and county emergency management.”
The station also used interviews with authorities to create custom public service announcements (PSAs). “We invited pastors to give us a moment of encouragement related to ‘floods’ and how God is always in control,” Raymond noted, “and used these recorded bits as PSAs, which aired during and after the initial brunt of the flood.”
Using the power of music to minister to listeners, KNWS produced a remixed version of Casting Crowns’ song “Praise You In This Storm,” featuring clips of people who called in with stories of how God was still in control even though everything was crashing down. One listener called to say her sister’s life was changed as a result of the song (see Listener Stories, p. 16).
As the waters receded and the breadth of the devastation unfolded, KNWS devoted airtime to promoting volunteer and donation opportunities through Serve The City in Cedar Rapids, as well as national relief efforts through Samaritan’s Purse and World Hope. Raymond said efforts are continuing, and the station’s promotion helped recruit 400 local volunteers to join 800 out-of-state volunteers for an Eight Days of Hope building campaign in October.
A little farther north, 98.5 KTIS felt the call to help its Iowa neighbors and in September partnered with STEM Ministries to send a team of 13 volunteers to help restore two homes. According to KTIS morning show host and team member David Christian, “We had 13 people on the team, mostly skilled workers—contractors, painters, drywallers. We were able to do in two days’ time about a week’s worth of work because the people who signed up really knew what they were doing!”
While rebuilding homes was the practical goal, Jim Levin of STEM Ministries noted there was more to it than that. “We’re not really a humanitarian organization; we’re a mission agency. So our role there was of course to work hard, to accomplish all we could, but equally important was to listen to people’s stories and be ready to pray for people wherever they were.”
Christian said he went to serve but was blessed personally as well. “Obviously when you serve God, it’s a proven fact that you can’t out-give God. You walk away so blessed by how God rocked your world—in a good way.”
Written by Nancy Zugschwert.