This has been an unbelievable spring. The newspapers, television and radio coverage has been non-stop, here, regarding the flooding here in Cedar Rapids. Over 25,000 people evacuated from their homes. Over 12,000 without power, and it could be weeks before it’s all restored. Our entire downtown is underwater--our beautiful library--submerged. The historic, beautifully restored Paramount Theatre. Countless businesses. On the news this morning, they said that over 1,300 blocks are under water. Mercy, one of our 500 bed hospitals, had to be evacuated in the middle of the night.
A friend is pregnant, with two small children, and both her and her husband are abruptly out of work because the places they worked for aren't even visible. The water is finally starting to recede, but even when it does, the devastation will have a huge impact for a long time to come. Many workers won't have a job to go back to, because so few businesses carried flood insurance. Stories abound about the people in large surrounding residential areas who don’t have it either, because they were told such high waters had never happened, and no one even dreamed it ever could. My friend started picking up hours at a restaurant, and some man left her a $50 tip with a note "Buy groceries" and she burst into tears on the spot.
Whole bridges have been swept away. Officials parked a heavy train--with hopper cars filled with rock, hoping to stabilize a trestle after another one upstream was swept away. Now that second trestle AND the train are in the river. Cell phones are iffy--sometimes they work, sometimes not. Not sure why--unless some of that local equipment is underwater somewhere or maybe, because so many land phones are out of commission.
At our house, we have been lucky. After our first long power outage, we were able to call around until we could find a generator, and got it set up un time to keep our sump pumps going and our lower level dry, and we are out on the county on a well, far away from the flood waters. We've lost electricity a number of times though, and word is that the whole power infrastructure is so taxed that its possible many more areas could lose power long term.
Cedar Rapids' water has crested and will take maybe a week to recede, but now Iowa City south of us is getting hit, and will crest this next week. The U of Iowa library and many other buildings have been evacuated.
But next...the clean up. I can only imagine that the large areas of homes that have been underwater so long will need to be razed--especially the low income areas. After weeks of rain, we sure don't need more, but two nights ago, another storm hit, with large hail, and we could hear the mares and foals in a pasture next door, running, and whinnying in panic because it hurt and they couldn't escape it. Last night—another storm. Looks like rain is on the way again, today. Things will get better, but my heart just aches for all the people who have lost everything, and who have few resources to get back on their feet. No jobs, no homes, no precious mementoes.
This spring, Iowa has had a number of killer tornadoes, including an F-5 that decimated two towns, and the one that tragically hit a boy scout camp in western Iowa. Flooding has brought hardship to many communities north of us, and is now heading south. So today, instead of talking about writing, I guess I’d just like to ask that you all keep the people of Iowa in your prayers.