Flood buckets

Tom Fox of Davenport packs a five-gallon bucket with cleaning supplies to take to New York later this month for cleanup efforts from Superstorm Sandy. Fox has been involved with disaster response through Lutheran Disaster Response and plans to transport as many buckets as are donated. (Larry Fisher/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Larry Fisher

Follow the instructions and all the cleaners, garbage bags and sponges will fit into a 5-gallon “flood bucket.”

Tom Fox of Davenport wants to take as many buckets as he can to New York City the week of Jan. 13 for help in cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy.

Sixteen items go into each of the buckets. Fox did a quick tally at a home improvement warehouse store and learned a bucket and its contents cost $54.40.

“Size is important,” he said of the cleaning supplies. “Go by those sizes, they will fit into a 5-gallon bucket.”

Fox has been involved in disaster relief since retiring as a parole and probation officer for the state of Iowa in 2007, working in Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina and in Cedar Rapids during the Flood of 2008. He worked for Lutheran Disaster Response in those and other areas.

He wanted to provide assistance to those affected by the huge storm that lashed the East Coast in late October and thought of the flood buckets, which were distributed along the Gulf Coast after Katrina. He especially wanted to help Staten Island residents.

“I know the people out there think they’re forgotten,” Fox said.

Fox made some phone calls, and his project began snowballing. He got his church, St. James Lutheran Church, Rock Island, involved. He eventually connected with a Lutheran church on Long Island that has been a center for disaster response since the storm. Although the storm has been over for some time, the cleanup continues.

“The places where the buckets are going, the pastor there is really working with all the residents of that part of Staten Island,” said the Rev. Michael Stadie, national program director of Lutheran Disaster Response. “One of the things that people need to remember in this is that it is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Fox doesn’t have a goal of how many buckets he will take, but he has a trailer lined up if response is overwhelming.

“They are going to need this stuff for a long time,” he said.

Stadie agreed

“For many people, because of the holidays, there is a bit of paralysis,” the disaster response director said. “People are trying to get their lives back together, not just on Staten Island. People are still in shelters because they don’t have a place to live or a safe place to live.”