MOLINE — My phone rang at whisker past 6 on the morning of April 19.
"We have to help this lady,'' the voice on the other end said. "No one should have to go through this.''
It was a familiar voice, but he wanted to remain anonymous. The woman he was talking about was 74-year-old Nancy Riesebieter, a Moline resident whose life has been turned upside down by Mississippi River floodwaters.
In typical Quad-Cities fashion, people who read about Nancy's plight in the the April 19 edition of the Dispatch-Argus and at QCOnline.com displayed the love, kindness and compassion that sets our corner of the world apart from the rest.
"I don't know where to start other than say thank you, and that I am surrounded by wonderful people,'' Nancy said Friday morning while tears ran down her cheeks. "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I am blessed.''
For 14 months, Nancy has battled breast cancer, working through surgery and dealing with the toll radiation takes on the body. Along the way, she was forced to make a choice: Pay her medical bills, or keep making payments to maintain flood insurance on her home along Moline's River Drive.
She chose to pay her medical bills, but then the flood of 2019, one that has crippled much of the area, got the best of her home. It took her late-model automobile, and it forced Nancy to evacuate.
Homeless, without a car, and without insurance to help her recover from the flood, Nancy turned to the Red Cross. It paid for a two-week stay in a motel for her, but two weeks was the maximum period of time it would cover.
So Roxann Adamson, the director of the Moline Township Activity Center, contacted me on Nancy's behalf. Nancy spends Tuesday mornings at the center with the Healthy Lifestyles group, and the members have become her family.
So I shared Nancy's story. And you, members of a community that never turns its back, went to work.
Boy, did you.
The folks from Werner Restoration made Nancy's struggles a priority that morning, handling the cleanup of her Moline home. A crew was there by 10 a.m. Crew members assessed the damage and went to work. Mind you, Werner has been swamped during the flood, but the company still found time to assist Nancy.
Werner staffers vowed that if the latest river crest gets the best of her home again, they will start fresh and make it right.
"We do a lot of different things for the community following various types of disasters, but this is pretty unique,'' Brett Werner said in an email. "Our project manager, Doug Streeter, saw the article in the paper and had a roundtable with our staff, and they came to me for approval. It was pretty much a no-brainer for us to get involved.
"As it sits now, we have completed the necessary demolition. We have air scrubbers and dehumidifiers running to control the moisture levels and cut down on dust,'' Werner added. "We are waiting to do any cleaning and sanitization until this next crest has come and gone.''
Werner wrote that he understands what Nancy is going through.
"We take a lot of pride with this aspect of our job,'' he wrote. "The vast majority of our work is disaster-related, so we see people on their worst of days. We talk about this a lot at the office, different ways that we can help, support and just be there to help them through whatever the project may require.
"It's tough, but there’s a great deal of personal satisfaction that comes with helping those in need. ''
Hundreds of you responded with financial assistance for Nancy. Anyone who wants to make a donation can send it to P.O. Box 274, Moline IL 61266-0274.
Many of you have offered to assist with remodeling Nancy's home once she is able to move back there. Until that time, a member of her Healthy Lifestyles family is putting up Nancy and Toby, her pet poodle.
The good folks at Ascentra Credit Union have stepped forward with a gift card to help Nancy, and a GoFundMe fundraising page has been started at https://www.gofundme.com/f/nancy-lost-almost-everything-in-the-2019-flood.
"So many great people out there,'' Adamson said. "Amazing people we have in this community, simply amazing. One group showed up with a 40-pound bag of dog food, dog treats for Toby, and a new dog bed he takes with him everywhere. One lady who does grooming in her home offered to help Toby feel and look better. I know there is good in our community, but never knew just how much good.''
It's everywhere. It's what sets the Quad-Cities apart.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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