Electrical distributors, independent reps and manufacturers have been providing 24/7 assistance and generous donations for victims of the recent floods and tornadoes in the region. While the horrific flooding and catastrophic damage from tornadoes hit communities throughout the Midwest, Iowa was hardest hit. Electrical companies in the area scrambled to help employees and customers who lost their homes, businesses or farms and are providing the electrical supplies to get power grids back online once flood waters have receded.

Bill Casey, principal, Bill Casey Electrical Sales Inc., Bensenville, Ill., said Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was probably the worst flooded area in the Midwest. “There are clean up crews from all over the country helping Cedar Rapids,” he said. “Other areas that endured losses were central Wisconsin including Lake Delton, central Indiana and notably Columbus, Ind., and many cities along the Mississippi. Electrical distributors are being inundated with requests for emergency equipment including generators, cord products, cord sets, power supply plugs and receptacles. All panels, circuit breakers, switches and receptacles that have gotten wet are recommended to be replaced in their entirety.

“Utilities adjacent to Cedar Rapids have pitched in to help resupply the community with electrical power. A large number of Commonwealth Edison transmission crews from Illinois are helping to reconnect many homes with power in the Cedar Rapids area.”

Van Meter Industrial (VMI), Cedar Rapids, made a $100,000 donation to aid flood and disaster victims in eastern Iowa. In addition, the company will match any and all donations to the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation up to a total of $25,000. To provide the 24/7 service needed for the area's flood recovery efforts, the company added additional staff and invested millions of dollars in additional inventory including temporary lighting and electricity support, generators, wire, conduit and fittings, fans, automation and control products, motors, absorbent/cleaning products and UPS systems.

A statement on the company's website said, “We have all seen how the floods and tornadoes have devastated our Iowa communities. Thousands have been left homeless and hundreds of businesses have been displaced or wiped out. The magnitude of the damage is unprecedented.

“We are blessed to live in communities where people come together to help one another during difficult times. As a supporter of our VMI family and leader in the community, VMI has been working to formulate a plan to provide support to those in need; first to our VMI family members, and then to the communities in which we live, work and play. A handful of our VMI family members have been displaced from their homes indefinitely and a few others have experienced significant water damage. VMI has provided some financial support to them to aid during this difficult and trying time.”

Dick Schmid, vice president of marketing, Crescent Electric Supply, East Dubuque, Ill., said his company has had to take care of six families who lost their homes or had very serious damage due to flooding, and one employee who lost his home from tornado damage in Parkersburg, Iowa. Crescent Electric Supply also had water issues in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, Mason City, Burlington, Keokuk and Des Moines, Iowa; Franklin and Columbus, Ind.; and Racine and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., he said.

“We're doing everything we can to get the necessary rebuilding materials into the area,” he said. “We want to assist in getting businesses reopened and people back in their homes as soon as possible. These people are not only customers, but over the past 89 years have become our friends as well. It's the only thing to do.”

Crescent Electric Supply has increased its matching relief fund to either The United Way or The American Red Cross up to a total of $85,000 to aid tornado and flood victims in Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana,” said Marty Burbridge, the company's president. “We've seen so many of the people and so much of the geography affected by the floods of 2008. We wanted to increase our assistance. We're hoping with a matching fund we help raise a minimum of $170,000.00 to help.”