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Volume 11, No. 2 Fall 2008

Frontline Clergy Offer Care for Flood Victims

IOCC’s US Program dispatched a Frontline team of Orthodox clergy to Iowa after a week of torrential rains caused the worst flooding to hit the Midwest in 15 years. (l to r: Fr. Christopher Flesoras, Fr. Vasile Bitere, and Fr. Haralambos Fox.) Photo credit: IOCC BaltimoreTwenty-four people perished and more than 40,000 had to evacuate their homes in what was described as the largest disaster since Katrina. IOCC sent a team of Orthodox clergy, known as the “Frontline” to provide trauma counseling and connect survivors to community resources.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa — As residents continue to recover from the Midwest floods, poignant stories have emerged such as a woman who lost everything but only cared about not finding her favorite picture of her daughter. “This is a vibrant community, which has been changed forever,” says Father Chris Flesoras, a member of IOCC’s Emergency Response Network, known as the “Orthodox Frontline,” which provided trauma counseling and coordinated resources with other charities in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

IOCC’s US Program dispatched the Frontline team after a week of torrential rains caused the worst flooding in the Midwest in 15 years. Twenty-four people perished and more than 40,000 had to evacuate their homes in what is being described as the largest disaster since Katrina.

The IOCC team organized a pan Orthodox prayer service and performed stress management debriefings. “We offered them our ministry of presence,” says Father Chris, who is pastor of St. Anna Orthodox Church in Roseville, California. Some of the help offered by the clergy team was as basic as filling out FEMA disaster claims and informing the survivors of other assistance options. IOCC also provided cash grants to Orthodox parishioners who have sustained damage and is partnering with Catholic Charities to reach out to the community at large.

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