Monday, June 30, 2008

Flood Report, Part 2

I've been pre-occupied lately. Last week a group of us did some fund-raising and came up with over $4,200 for the four people we work with who lost their homes in the flood. My company is doing nothing. In fact, during the flooding, we got an email that literally said, "Buck up and try to focus on your work."

People here are very grateful that there was no loss of life during the floods. It was the victims of Katrina paid our tuition for the lessons required to survive so well. We learned from their experience. We learned from their unimaginable losses.

Our communities organized and banded together. Major businesses (other than my souless company) shut down and sent their people home or out to help where help was needed. We had mandatory evacuations. We set up huge animal shelters so no one refused to leave home because they couldn't abandon their pets.

When I look around my town, I see massive damage in so many treasured places, however, I'm very aware that it could have been so much worse.

On the other hand, there have been huge losses that the rest of the world doesn't really know about ... or at least doesn't appreciate. Whole towns are gone forever. Most of them will never be rebuilt. These are little towns where some families have lived for generations.

In these towns, when a person walks into the local diner, everyone knows their name. Seventy-five per cent of the town shows up for the high school football games. They have a Casey's and a Hardees somewhere along Main Street, and that's where most of the high school kids hang out. Seriously, there are still towns like that. But, because of the devastating flooding, some of these multi-generational communities have been completely destroyed. They are gone forever. A few folks might rebuild near one another, but most will scatter to larger nearby towns and cities.

The country mourned Katrina's destruction of the historical landmarks and culture of New Orleans and other parts of the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. And, of course, we mourned, and still mourn the terrible human losses. However, I hope some folks take the time to empathize with these little midwestern towns. They might not be important to thousands and thousands of people around the world, but their passing deserves recognition. I'm not from a small town, but my heart goes out to the people who loved and lost all that was ever home.

There is so much work to do to recover from these floods. FEMA has been here to help. The president stopped by for a few hours last week. (I suppose it was a good thing to do, but he annoyed me when his motorcade got in my way and made me late for lunch).

Hey, I wonder if any celebrities are going to show up to help.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Shoe for Every Occassion

These are what all the best-dressed gals are wearing in Iowa this week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

500 Year Flood

This is the trail that I normally take for my morning walk. It's 2 blocks from my house.

This street is 4 blocks away. The animal shelter is at the end.

A street five blocks away ...
They say a flood like this only happens once every 500 years.

Things will never be the same. 18 buildings at the University of Iowa have been flooded, including the main library, student union and the art building; homes and businesses are ruined; and thousands of people are indefinitely displaced.

One of my best friends/co-workers had to evacuate his 2nd floor apartment last Thursday. The water reached his level yesterday. He's safely staying with family 2 hours away. However, he can't get to work and our company won't pay him for the time he's away. It will be a week or two before he can return. When I talked to him today, he said that he'll come back for his salvaged belongings, but he's not returning to Iowa City.

The main highway between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids has been closed for 3 days and may be closed for another 4 days. The two cities are closely connected in many ways. Many of my friends and co-workers live there. Currently, the recommended detour to Cedar Rapids is through Des Moines. That's a 281 mile trip one way. Normally, it's a quick 25 mile drive.

Iowa City has been fortunate compared to Cedar Rapids. The damage hasn’t been as severe and we didn’t lose water or power. Also, because our river is controlled by a reservoir system, we had more time to prepare.

Like thousands of other volunteers, I spent many hours sand-bagging the last couple days. Our efforts made a difference as many properties were spared damage. Today, we're feeling relieved as we learned that the river has crested.

Now, the hard work begins for so many people. Clean-up, repair, and recovery. I'll pitch in and do everything I can, but for me, it's a choice not a requirement because I haven't been directly affected.

Once again, I've been spared personal loss. Two years ago, a tornado struck one block from my house taking several homes and businesses. This year, the flood water came within two blocks of me.

I'm a very lucky girl.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Iowa is a mess. First, tornadoes, then flooding.

One of my coworkers has a relative in an effected area. They lost their barn and silo in a tornado. Then, the father was in a terrible work related accident. Last night their house was flooded and the flooding caused an electrical fire. After surviving a tornado and a near fatal accident, this man and woman, and their three small children, stood in a field up to their knees in mud and watched their home go up in flames. This family, and so many others, are in my prayers.

Parts of my city are flooding but so far we've been spared the damage many of our neighboring towns are suffering. An EF5 tornado, 1 mile wide, leveled the town of Parkersburg. Yesterday, Mason City lost 3 of their 4 bridges. More rain is expected in the coming days.
I live 3 blocks from the Iowa River; however, my home sits on a bit of a hill. There was a bad flood here about 15 years ago but according to my neighbors, the water didn't come anywhere near our houses. Right now, I feel fairly safe. If I don't later on, I have many friends with comfy, vacant couches.

We have one non-flooded park left in the city. After work last night, the Man invited me to join him for a picnic in a gazebo at the park (because that's what people who are "just friends" do ... a bit confusing, but that's another story). It was raining lightly, but nothing like the terrible storms we've had the last several weeks. As we were leaving the park, the setting sun broke through the clouds and created one of the biggest, brightest rainbows I've ever seen. It reminded me that even the worst of times don’t last forever.

Today is a sunny, breezy 75 degrees
... and I'm counting my blessings.