College Apartments Become Refuge for Academic Affairs Office Manager

In times of great struggle and difficulty, such as the Cedar Rapids flood, circumstances can sometimes be overwhelming. For Patti Roman, office manager in the Academic Affairs division, who lost almost all of her belongings to the flood waters, the compassion and service that others offered during that time was just as overwhelming.

Roman, who lives near Ellis Boulevard on 5th Street in northwest Cedar Rapids, never imagined the water would rise as high or fast as it did June 12–13. She and her husband were expecting no more than a couple feet of water in their basement, but they ended up with three and a half feet of water on their main floor and an entire basement full of filthy flood water. Eventually, the water would cover their kitchen range and countertops.

As Mount Mercy administrators and supervisors called employees to learn if they or their families had been impacted by the flooding, a plan went into place that allowed for those who were displaced to live in the College’s lower campus apartments. Roman and her husband were one of two campus employees who took advantage of the offer.

“Everyone here [at Mount Mercy] has been very kind,” says Roman. “People have brought us clothes, food, gift cards and personal items.” The Mount Mercy community found simple, creative ways to show Roman and her husband that they were thinking of them. “My husband and I went to visit our pets, who are staying at my brother’s acreage,” recalls Roman, “and when we returned we found a fresh bowl of strawberries on the table in the apartment. They never tasted so good.”

Mount Mercy has set up a Flood Relief Fund to help students and employees who have been directly impacted by the flooding. It is an act of service and generosity for which Roman is very grateful. “I think the Fund is a wonderful, thoughtful idea,” she says. “We are so thankful for everything; the administration has been just wonderful.”

Roman is quick to point out the many things she has to be thankful for, despite losing almost all of her family’s belongings. She and her husband were able to save their pets, including a Pug dog, two cats, and a parrot. It was because of the pets that they originally decided to evacuate early. “I didn’t want to wait too long,” says Roman. “I didn’t want to get stranded and then have to leave them behind.” Roman is thankful that her son and his family, who also live in Cedar Rapids, were unaffected by the flood. “I know how it feels to lose your house and your belongings, but I don’t know how it feels to have young children and have to go through that.”

After seeing so many people contribute their time and service, Roman now sees volunteering in a whole new light. “People have done so much for us. When we get through this there will be no excuse for not spending a Saturday doing something for someone else,” says Roman. “The service here has been such a blessing.”