To give historical perspective to floods, I sat transfixed in front of the Weather Channel's pictures of the 1993 flood which devastated towns and commerce up and down the Mississippi. But all harkens back to a flood in Iowa City while I was in college My roommate was photographer for the Daily Iowan and inveigled someone to take her up in a plane to get an aerial view. Damage was not as severe as 1993 and certainly not like 2008. The roommate, however, received reprecussions, both good and bad. Bad , because her father had died in a plane crash and her mother had strong thoughts about her taking the pictures. Good, because the resulting pictures were in her portfolio when she later set up her own business in Chicago's Congress Hotel.
When the first pictures came streaming in, my reaction was to say ANOTHER KATRINA. Not the political backstabbing good-job Brownie type, but the displacement of persons and depletion of resources. Just think of all that corn people were ready to burn in their tanks, and things get real. Forget about enough corn for steaks. Think food for people, and some for people globally. Think money. Think! How will we look at June when November comes?
Volunteers are needed. What for? Ask the people hurting. And look at the road atlas. This is not a case of a sudden drowning of a little spot on the map which happens to loom large in my personal nostalgia. Cedar Rapids, more widely known because of manufacturing and commerce, is only in little better shape. Des Moines, with a total shutdown of its water supply in 1993, had a little luck this time, but Cedar Rapids! No water. I remember so clearly taking a Venezuelan engineer, doing graduate work at SUI, to the water treatment plant in Cedar Rapids.
Well, it's no time to cry. But I feel I just have to ask all those folks who spent so much time in February, whether in person or by digital transmission, for HELP. It's as American as apple pie. Don't let the feel-good articles about a landmark building in Iowa City distract you from the fully national scope of a disaster. When the Mississippi River is drowning, we all pay the price.