BERLIN – A local contingent of much-needed emergency manpower and resources are in ravaged Iowa this week helping residents there restore order after the largest flood on record in the Midwest state.
At the direction of the umbrella organization Disaster Kleenup International, a disaster relief team from Royal Plus, based in Snow Hill with offices all over the resort area, headed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa last weekend to help with relief efforts in the flooded city. Royal Plus is one of many companies under the umbrella of Disaster Kleenup International, which sends manpower and resources into areas faced with natural and manmade disasters such as hurricanes, floods, fires and other calamities.
Over the past week, record flooding has battered much of the country’s Midwest, including Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar River breached its banks and buried over 1,300 city blocks under as much as 30 feet of water last week. Over 24,000 residents of the city of about 120,000 were forced to leave their homes during the flood and countless residences and buildings have been destroyed.
The floodwaters are continually receding in Cedar Rapids, as of yesterday, promulgating a massive clean-up and restoration effort. Among those on the front lines of the effort is a large contingent of local residents from Worcester County and the Ocean City area, who traveled to Iowa last weekend as part of the Royal Plus team, including Delegate Jim Mathias, who works for the private sector company as a spokesman and, more perhaps more importantly, a front-line relief worker.
As of Monday morning, Royal Plus had transported hundreds of team members working in specialized recovery crews to Cedar Rapids via chartered aircraft. In addition, a vast amount of supplies and resources have also been transported to the flood-ravaged areas on the ground.
Much of the Royal Plus team’s effort thus far have focused on the Mercy Medical Center, a large hospital in the heart of the city that had to be evacuated as the flood waters encroached last week. The first of the Royal Plus team arrived in Cedar Rapids last Friday and were immediately directed to exert their efforts and getting the much-needed hospital up and running again.
“Royal Plus Disaster Kleenup actually had project managers in the flood-ravaged area as early as Friday to begin assessing the damage at Mercy Medical Center,” said Royal Plus Chief Operations Officer Tony McElvoy. “Mercy Medical is Cedar Rapids’ main medical facility and its restoration is currently our primary focus. At this time, Royal Plus has rotating shifts of 250 technicians working around the clock to restore the hospital to operating capacity. The hospital wants to be fully operational in two weeks and we’ve been hired to help make that happen.”
Mathias said yesterday the efforts are already paying dividends, with power restored and many areas of the facility re-opened including the oncology department. Mathias said temporary relief workers from the area are assisting the core group of the Royal Plus team.
“Our guys are working very hard to get this hospital back on line,” he said. “This is a substantial undertaking. This area was under as much as 20 feet of water just a few days ago, and while the water has receded, the real relief and restoration efforts are just now getting underway.”
While the Royal Plus efforts are concentrated mainly on restoring the hospital, the crews are branching out to help in other areas, according to Mathias, who, in his role as a public elected figure, has met with Cedar Rapids to determine how best to direct the resources.
“The whole downtown area of Cedar Rapids was completely underwater and much of the core business area is destroyed,” he said. “It goes to show you how Mother Nature will go where she wants to go. They’ll recover, but it won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight.”
Mathias, who packed for at least a week, said the lessons taken from the experience in Iowa might need to be applied in Worcester County and Ocean City some time in the future.
“We know we live in a low-lying area prone to storms and other disasters,” he said. “The good news is, we have this great asset right in our backyard. With the experience gained from this and other disasters we’ve responded to in recent years, we’ll be ready if and when something like this happens here.”