December 23 A special flood recovery event was held at St. Wenceslaus.
A Season of Hope recognized the outpouring of assistance our flood-impacted community has received as well as the continuing challenges in working to restore the lives of those touched by the floodwaters. During the event, Governor Chet Culver, Mayor Kay Halloran, County Supervisor Linda Langston, and other elected officials marked the community’s flood recovery progress with words of encouragement, musical performances and a video presentation.
Governor Chet Culver & Fr Podhajsky with St. Wence volunteers,
L-R; Jerry Beer, Jim Miller, Al Smejkal, Ed Melichar, and Bob Ruzicka.
St Wenceslaus Catholic Church
A CZECH NATIONAL PARISH
Nearly all of the progress in the gym building has been the work of the AmeriCorp crews. Our team pictured below had a shorter term here than the crew before and will leave Dec 16. They will head to Detroit after the first of the year. We are truly thankful for having them working with us at St. Wenceslaus!
Crews from St Francis Assisi in Des Moines and from Mt Mercy College painted and cleaned in the gym building and worked in Chihak Hall. All the adhesive backing from the old carpet was chipped off to prepare for new carpet to be installed.
Czech Republic ambassador visits Cedar Rapids
By Cindy Hadish (St. Wenceslaus parishioner)
The Gazette Oct 30
CEDAR RAPIDS - The most difficult phone call Gail Naughton had to make after the June floods was to Petr Kolar, the Czech Republic's ambassador to the United States.
"We cried together on the phone," said Naughton, president of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which held books and other artifacts from the Czech Republic.
Kolar came to Cedar Rapids last night to offer support, including financial help, from the Czech Republic.
Boarded windows and mud-caked sidewalks in front of the museum remain visible reminders of the June flood that inundated the building with 10 feet of water and devastated Czech Village.
"I have mixed feelings," Kolar said, upon arriving at the cleaned, but gutted, museum at 30 16th Ave. SW. "I'm sorry and sad because of the flood and damage, but I'm proud of the people reconstructing not only the (museum) building, but the whole community here."
Kolar was joined at a dinner at the Cedar Rapids Country Club by Gov. Chet Culver, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and other state and local officials.
It was the first time Culver and Kolar had met.
"I hope we can continue to maintain this terrific friendship," Culver said, adding that he would like to visit the Czech Republic. He thanked Kolar for his country's contribution to flood recovery.
Checks totaling $583,780 from the Czech Republic will go to four entities:
Czech museum: $405,380.
Sokol Cedar Rapids: $89,000.
St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church: $44,700.
Cedar Rapids Public Library: $44,700.
Christine Schuety, president of the library foundation, said she was touched that the library was selected to represent recovery help to Cedar Rapids residents. The other groups have Czech ties.
Sokol, a social and gymnastics organization started in 1872 by Czech immigrants, will use the gift to help buy new equipment. Floodwaters raged through the 100-year-old Sokol building downtown at 417 Third St. SE.
St. Wenceslaus, 1224 Fifth St. SE, a national Czech parish across the river from the museum, has reopened since the floods, after thousands of hours of volunteer help. Money will be used to help restore the church's community building, said Bob Kazimour, chairman of the parish council.Sokol, a social and gymnastics organization started in 1872 by Czech immigrants, will use the gift to help buy new equipment. Floodwaters raged through the 100-year-old Sokol building downtown at 417 Third St. SE.
Schuety said the library gift will be used as a catalyst for efforts to help fund a permanent library, either at its downtown site, at 500 First St. SE, or elsewhere.
Naughton said the museum, which opened in 1995, is committed to staying in Czech Village.
Kolar drew parallels between the devastation in Cedar Rapids and flooding in the Czech Republic six years ago, saying, to nods of agreement from the Iowans, that "nobody expected all the water."
The 2002 European floods inundated Prague and other cities, causing billions of dollars in damage to historical and cultural sites and homes.
"Tragic moments can be turned into something positive," Kolar said, noting that many parts of the Czech Republic were restored in better condition after the floods.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was scheduled to make the trip to Cedar Rapids but canceled because of political considerations at home.
Oct -Dec rebuild
NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY
Out of adversity comes opportunity has been played out countless times these past 4 months. In the midst of this disaster we have been truly blessed to have been able to work with many, many volunteers (7200 hours worth now) who have stepped up and made a difference in this flood recovery.
The latest example of this was a crew of 20 Notre Dame University students who donated their fall break and made the 5 hour trip to Cedar Rapids to help us out. The crew spent 3+ days here at St Wenceslaus removing all the contaminated dirt and rock from the rectory basement below the offices. They also helped pour concrete in Chihak Hall, removed the last of the rock from Chihak Hall and brought sand to the rectory basement so a concrete floor can be poured. They spent another day + working at a house that was severely damaged from the flood.
Thank you to sophomores Hugh McDonald and Noelle Hilmer and ND Alumni President John Casko for organizing this and to The Breaking Bread Coalition for providing lunches. Thank you to LaSalle Middle School for hosting the crew and to the volunteers who coordinated all aspects of this week. Monday and Tuesday volunteers from Queen of Saints Parish Cluster made and served the lunches. Wednesday St. Patrick's-Fairfax hosted lunch and Thursday John XXIII did. St Wenceslaus volunteers also brought a large amount of snacks throughout the week. A dinner was held Thursday night to celebrate and thank the crew.
It is noteworthy that this crew not only gave of themselves all week long but also had taken a collection and made very generous financial contributions to both the resident whose property they cleaned up and to St. Wenceslaus Parish. THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU!!!