Tyler Family Heading Back To Cedar Rapids To Help

Nearly a thousand miles away from the devastating Iowa flood, right here in East Texas, the waters are hitting too close to home.

This afternoon, KLTV 7 News sat down with a group of East Texas Iowans who are now living in Tyler.

What they lack in age, they more than make up in determination - working to unite two towns, and help those who now need it most.

Claire Stratton has fond memories of Cedar Rapids. "It really upset me because all those memories in Cedar Rapids are all washed away."

She's the smallest of the bunch, but ten year old Claire was as devastated as everyone else in her family. They moved to Tyler earlier this year, but for much of her life, the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were home. Those same streets, homes, and schools are now underwater.

"We used to go to the Dairy Queen, and now it's flooded up to the roof," she remembers.

Catherine Butschi wants to help. "Everybody's a community there. If someone gets hurt, you've got to help them." Catherine and her siblings are now preparing to travel back to Iowa this week, but they're hoping to not go empty handed.

"We're trying to collect fans, garbage bags, gloves," says Catherine, "...things that they can use."

The fliers are made, the word is out: the goal, to provide whatever relief they can to some of the more than 20,000 displaced residents, not just victims, but friends.

Steven Butschi graduated high school in Cedar Rapids. "A girl lost her family business, they had a floral shop and it's all under water...even though we live here in Texas, we're still very much tied into the community."

And now the family hopes to link the two cities together. "To see people who are in need, to see their faces and smiling again...that's the one thing I'm looking forward to," says Tommy Butschi.

You can drop off your donations Tuesday and Wednesday in the main office at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Drop off hours continue until 7:00 pm in the parking lot of RELHS.

Right now, the family says they'll pack up their van with whatever they can get, and they're hoping to have to rent a U-Haul before they leave for Iowa on Thursday.