After all the car time last night, I had trouble getting to sleep when we returned home. So I visited the Cedar Rapids Gazette site and some other Iowa flood related sites, and found the blog of Katie Graham, who has been working in the AmeriCorps office this summer. Good stuff.
Information on the scope of the flooding can be found at this Wiki article. There is a town called Palo that, we were told, has 691 homes and all but one flooded. The town still does not have power. (How can that be!?)
There was a map in the volunteer center showing the Cedar Rapids area and the 100-year and 500-year flood plains of the Cedar river. The water was well outside both.
One of the comments I read in a Gazette article quoted a young volunteer as saying that it wasn't really emotional because these weren't your homes or your neighbors' - you just went in and did the work. Well, yes.
And no. The homeowner we met on Saturday, Vicky, told us many amusing stories of the flood and things floating up and getting lodged in their yard (they were the high water point on her block - people across the street had water in their basements but not in their homes. Vicky was delightful and funny and gutsy, but she's had over two months of living with this situation. When we got to her home, all the personal items were out and disposed of, and we were just taking out walls, ceilings, floors, windows.
Such a tragedy to have your 1890's era home gutted this way. To have your personal belongings ruined. To spend months displaced and living with family. There was laughter this weekend, but I'm sure there have been many tears along her path.
I heard a keynote speech at a conference once, by a woman who had worked in the UN High Commission for Refugees. What she said has always stuck with me: "Every single refugee I meet says the same thing: 'I never thought it could happen to me.'"
Do you think that? I do. And I need to re-think.