SGI-USA Members Deliver Emergency Relief to Flood Victims in Iowa State, USA
For around three weeks from June 8, 2008, Iowa, USA, experienced continuous flooding throughout the state. Cedar Rapids, one of the cities hardest hit by flooding, reported 438 downtown city blocks underwater, including the city government building and the main public library.
A relief team, led by SGI-USA Senior Vice General Director Richard Sasaki and Central Territory Men's Vice Leader Al Bailey, drove to the hardest-hit areas to encourage members impacted by the deluge. Meanwhile, young men of the SGI-USA Chicago Zone drove a truck loaded with nearly 3,400 bottles of water and 700 rolls of toilet paper to the afflicted areas.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a condolence message to members affected by the flooding and also asked SGI-USA leaders to travel to Iowa to encourage the local members on his behalf.
Danielle Foster-Smith, SGI-USA Iowa Chapter women's leader, was driving from central Iowa to the state's eastern border on June 9, 2008, when she began to notice flooded farmland in the outskirts of Des Moines. She immediately began calling fellow SGI-USA members throughout Iowa and praying for their safety, as tens of thousands of residents in 11 counties were evacuated from their homes. The state government declared 24 counties disaster areas.
Mara Carberry, a district women's leader in the area, and her children, Tyler, 14, and Shannon, 13, accompanied the group of young men from Chicago to deliver water, toilet paper and candy to shelters across the city. Lois Baker, a district women's leader in Iowa City, said the flood has unified and strengthened the bonds among the local members.
Jerry Carberry, the Iowa Chapter men's leader, said that while none of the SGI members lost their homes, all were impacted because Iowa is their home. The spirit of the Iowa members, he said, will continue to be one of "turning poison into medicine," a principle of Nichiren Buddhism, with great conviction in Nichiren's words, "When great evil occurs, great good follows" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 1119).
[Adapted from an article in the June 27, 2008 issue of The World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of The World Tribune]