Lions tackle flood relief

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, October 20, 2010

While Austin has seen its fair share of flood-caused disaster, local Lions Club members are doing their part to help ease the pain for victims in other affected areas — particularly the Zumbro Falls region.

Gary Larson, Southeastern Minnesota Lions District emergency relief chair, said the Lions have donated over $16,000 to flood victims in the Zumbro Falls and Pine Island areas.

“I would expect more (donations) to come yet,” Larson said.

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Larson said Lions Club International donated $10,000 in gift cards so that victims could purchase toiletries, food, paper products and other necessary items that may have been lost in the flood.

Lions Club District Treasurer Mark Marreel said approximately 20 Lions Clubs in the area have donated time and resources to relief efforts for the 200 families that were affected by the disaster.

“Anything that was in the water is gone,” Marreel said. “They lost everything. And some of them don’t have flood insurance because this was on a floodplain.”

Marreel and Larson said that they purchased nearly $5,000 in products for the families — including laundry soap, fresh water, toilet paper, clothing, shoes and food — on behalf of the Lions.

Larson also said Hormel donated 20 cases of Spam and other Hormel canned products.

But the relief efforts haven’t stopped there.

Dan Schmidt, Zumbro Falls Lions Club secretary, has organized a food, furniture and clothing shelf at Jenny’s Greenhouse about four miles north of Zumbro Falls on Highway 63.

“It’s amazing to see the people come in there,” Larson said.

Larson said the shelf has everything from clothing to cleaning supplies, diapers, furniture, toiletries and electronics. The items have been donated from not only Lions clubs and members but also from individuals and businesses.

Marreel said there is an area hotel that is remodeling its rooms and donated several mattresses to the relief shelf.

Although the Lions have been working diligently to help get flood victims back on their feet as soon as possible, Marreel and Larson said there is still a need for volunteers and material donations.

Marreel said queen-sized bed frames are needed to go with the donated mattresses. Any other donations are welcome, as well, including furniture, clothing, personal items and food.

Larson said anyone interested in volunteering with clean-up efforts can sign up online at the United Way of Olmsted County website. Volunteers are also needed at the food, clothing and furniture shelf at Jenny’s Greenhouse in Zumbro Falls.

“We feel sad while we’re there because of all the destruction,” Marreel said.

“But we feel good at the end of the day knowing we helped,” Larson said. “I wish we had 100 times as much money to give these people, because we’re just scratching the surface.”