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A Flood of Grace

How the outpouring of support for this Wisconsin community revealed beauty in tragedy.

Evening storms on Monday, August 27, 2018 in Coon Valley, Wis. were just the beginning of a torrential downpour that would carry on into the night and through Tuesday afternoon. Waters rose in minutes and by midnight Coon Valley was flooded, causing devastating damage to local properties.1 When Agent Roger Klein saw this damage firsthand, he knew he had to do something. He called up High Chief Ranger (HCR) Dave Huber to see what could be done. Within 24 hours, Mr. Huber had affirmed that Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) would be happy to help and donate $5,000 to Catholic Charities of La Crosse, Wis., an organization willing to go to great lengths to provide help where help is needed. Its force of volunteers, some 1,500 strong, is the hands and feet to the ministry. Catholic Charities had already provided $20,000 in assistance to the recent flood victims when COF came into the picture.

One month after the flooding, we met with Roger at the Diocesan Center of La Crosse, home to Catholic Charities, and presented the check to Catholic Charities Executive Director Roberto Partarrieu. Roberto told us about what they had been doing so far to help flood victims. “We give them a gift card so they can have emergency assistance immediately, and now we have a hotline that people can call and we assess their situation, and if they don’t have insurance or FEMA doesn’t help them, we help,” he said. “All these funds are going directly to them.”

He went on to explain how necessary the volunteers and donations are because of the sheer demand for aid these floods have caused. “In just one case, one family lost $300,000,” Roberto said. “Their house was completely destroyed, and they’re not sure if insurance is going to help because they’re not in a flood zone…they have to pay the mortgage for a house they can’t live in. That’s when we step in. [Your donation] really helps.”

Roger mentioned how impressed he was by Mr. Huber’s quick response time in getting help to them, to which Roberto replied with a smile, “That’s the beauty about the community here! People come together if there’s a disaster. The Midwest is really unique in that regard—people care for each other. It’s a beauty to see. It’s encouraging.”

Roberto, who was touched by the outpouring of support from the community, said, “It is sad to see something like this happen, but it’s so beautiful to see how people react, and the goodness that comes out of it. For every sad story, there are five or six that are good. God works. God works through people.

For more information about Catholic Charities of La Crosse, click here.

Catholic Charities La Crosse Check Presentation

Pictured above: Katlyn Gerken (COF Home Office), Roberto Partarrieu (Catholic Charities La Crosse), Roger Klein (COF Agent), and Alison Mink (COF Home Office)

Article by Alison Mink.


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