The tiny white mosque in a working-class neighborhood on this city's west side is a muddy shell with a sewage-stained stack of Korans and prayer beads piled nearly 5 feet high out back.
For more than seven decades, Muslim immigrants searching for solace and strength have gathered at the Mother Mosque of America, the oldest surviving mosque in North America.
Now, the memories have been washed away. Picking through the debris, the faithful struggle to find something they can salvage -- even if it's only a little hope.
"We have lost our homes, our businesses and our places of worship," said the mosque's leader, Imam Taha Tawil. "We have a lot to rebuild, but we can do it."
Nearly three weeks after the surging Cedar River crested well above historic levels and swamped 1,300 city blocks, the worship center and the 50 families it serves are among the tens of thousands of flood victims here in the state's second-largest city. . .
"It became the place where we could preserve the heritage and traditions of the Islamic community, here in Iowa and America," Tawil said. "It's why this flood is so hard. We've lost a century's worth of art and oral history and work." (MORE)