Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Flood of Support

Fifteen years ago we had the Great Flood of 1993.

I had spent the first part of the summer in Northern Minnesota where it rained constantly and the thermometer never quite made it over 73ยบ. I made it home to Des Moines in mid-July, just in time to experience the worst flooding the midwest had seen in 150 years.

Many parts of Des Moines lost both water and electricity for nearly two weeks during this time. To make matters worse, it was a typical Iowa summer: hot and humid.

Ten years prior to this, my parents had built the home that they still live in now. At the time, my dad was adamant that we choose the highest lot in the subdivision and that no landscaping be done to level-off our property. The result is the world's worst driveway. The damn thing's got a 12% grade but is only as long as every other driveway in the world of suburbia. I once managed to get TWO cars stuck in snow drifts at the bottom of that driveway in the course of an hour, but that's a whole other story.

Anyway, for the first time since we'd moved there, my mother, siblings, and I had to acknowledge that our father may have been onto something in choosing that lot. While every other basement in a two mile radius suffered some degree of flooding, ours stayed high and dry.

We were also very lucky that our neighborhood never lost water or electricity. There was, of course, a conservation ban in place ("If it's brown, flush it down; If it's yellow, let it mellow!") but all in all, our family suffered very little.

My cousin Tom's wife Jane was about 20 months pregnant at this point and they lived in an area that had lost both water and electricity. My parents invited them to move in with us until the crisis was over.

But the thing I remember most about the Floods of '93 was July 12. The levee at the Water Works facility which supplied water to several western suburbs, was in danger of failing. So, my family and I drove over to the local mall and climbed into a big yellow school bus which shuttled us over to the Water Works, where we joined THOUSANDS (I tend to exaggerate, but I'm not now, some estimates put the numbers of volunteers that day over 30K) of others to sandbag.

I still get teary thinking about all those people coming together. People came from all over. It was truly a remarkable experience.

And now the midwest is flooding again. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Ames are all under water. And just this morning I heard that the Riverwalk levee in Des Moines, near North High School, was breached.

My heart goes out to those who are suffering through this disaster and I wish them all the best during this tragedy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My prayers go out to your "home", EEE.