Floods force Nauvoo event to be canceled

The annual "City of Joseph" pageant, scheduled to open July 30 in Nauvoo, Ill., is a victim of flooding in the Midwest.

Pageant organizers met July 17 in Nauvoo and decided to cancel the production this year because of the devastation caused by flooding throughout the area, according to pageant executive director Don Oscarson."Considering the impact of the floods on the lives of not only Church members but of total communities up and down the Mississippi River, we felt it would be most appropriate to cancel this year," Brother Oscarson said. "We felt energies would best be put into efforts to save property and lives that have been so disrupted by this incredible flooding."

Flooding caused by continuous heavy rain throughout the Midwest over the last 1 1/2 months has led to over 30 deaths and more than $10 billion in damage. Approximately 22,000 homes have been damaged. Relatively few of those were homes of LDS families.

Maughan McMurdy, producer and composer for "City of Joseph," a historical musical that tells the story of early saints in Nauvoo when Joseph Smith lived there, was in on the decision to cancel the pageant which was to have run July 30-31 and Aug. 3-7.

"Nauvoo has not been tremendously affected by the flooding," he said. "It seems to be in pretty good shape compared to other communities. It's just hard to get to."

Some roads have been flooded and approaches to many bridges are under water, compounding transportation woes. Brother McMurdy said the disaster has cut down the number of visitors at tourist stops along the Mississippi River, including Nauvoo.

Members who operate shops in the Nauvoo area have been hurt by the drop in number of tourists, according to Gene Mann, former president of the Nauvoo Illinois Stake.

As director of the Adams County Health Department in Quincy, Ill., Brother Mann is gearing up for a side effect of the flooding - diseases caused by insects and contaminated water after the floods recede.

But in the meantime, he has witnessed an example of selfless service by members of the Church.

"We had three people in our home Saturday evening who came down from the Joliet [Ill.] Ward," Brother Mann said. "About 30 members of the ward came down to help on a levee south of Quincy that is protecting over 100,000 acres of prime farmland.

"They remember that the members from around here helped them with cleanup after a tornado hit Joliet about two years ago."

The visitors from Joliet worked on the levee all day Saturday, spent that evening in the homes of members, had an early breakfast and sacrament meeting at the Quincy meetinghouse Sunday morning and spent the rest of the day working before returning to Joliet in the evening.

A few members in Quincy had to evacuate their homes, Brother Mann said. With bridges over the Mississippi River out of commission, some members have had difficulty getting to their places of employment.

In Ames, Iowa, members of the Church turned disaster into an opportunity for service, according to Kathryn Andre, Ames Ward public affairs director.

She described severe flooding in the community in early July when heavy rainfall caused Squaw Creek and the Skunk River to overflow. Several businesses along with the East Campus of Iowa State University were flooded with several feet of water.

One of the worst-hit areas was the King City Trailer Park, owned by Bishop Kim Sharp of the Ames Ward, Sister Andre reported. Among the damaged mobile homes were three owned by members of the Church. Many of the homes were submerged up to their roof lines.

All residents were evacuated safely, but weren't allowed to return for several days. When they did return, they found their homes heavily damaged and most of their belongings ruined. Youth and adults from the Ames Ward joined other volunteers in assisting and encouraging residents, Sister Andre said. The volunteers helped clean the inside of mobile homes, reattached decks, hauled away trash and cleared debris and fallen trees from yards.

Some ward members opened their homes to families who had no place to live after flooding claimed their homes.

"It saddened the volunteers to see the treasures of yesterday thrown into the trash today . . . children's stuffed animals and toys, books, photographs and framed art," Sister Andre related. "Most residents had no insurance, and many trailers and their contents have been declared total losses."

A heavy rainstorm July 15-16 led to flooded basements in the homes of many Church members in North Dakota and South Dakota, according to Janet Kruckenberg, director of public affairs for the Fargo North Dakota Region.

She said water was seeping into the homes and that floods were also causing sewers to back up into basements. Bishop Bill Foster of the Sioux Falls 2nd Ward was struggling to pump sewer water out of his basement when the power went out, Sister Kruckenberg reported. He then had to stand by helpless as his basement filled with water.

Many residents of Des Moines, Iowa, were, as of July 20, still without drinking water after their treatment plant was flooded July 11. The city worked to restore running water, but it was expected to take several days before it was clean enough to drink.

Des Moines Stake Relief Society Pres. Janet Andersen said people have just had to cope. She said residents are given a maximum of five gallons of water a day at stations around the city. She said West Des Moines didn't lose its water, so members of the Church are using the shower facilities at the Des Moines stake center there. Church meetings except sacrament meeting were canceled July 18 so that water and energy could be conserved.

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