Friday, June 27, 2008

Iowa Floods

This is Highway 1, south of Mount Vernon last week. I used to live just up the road from where this photo was taken. Where I lived is just out of shot in the upper right corner of that photo. This means that our old house is fine but our former neighbors are ruined.

This is one of the rivers in Iowa that flooded, the Cedar River. The farm shown is the Pitlik farm. There were a bunch of cottages on the other side of the river from the farm in an area called Ivanhoe. Those cottages are gone.

The Iowa River in Iowa City, the Cedar River in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, the Des Moines River in Des Moines all caused a lot of trouble for people this year.

As much as I love living in Scotland, I do miss my home state of Iowa. I miss my family and my friends. I miss the landscape and the people.

When bad things like these floods happen, I wish that I was there to help. I don't know if I'd actually like to see the flood damage. I don't know if I would want to see my beloved, peaceful state when it is not at it's best. Iowa in the summer is Iowa at its best. I don't want the people I care about over there to think that I'm glad I'm not there anymore, because that isn't true. You can be happy to be living in one place AND miss another place at the same time. I know because it happens to me all the time. As somebody once wrote "It is a curse to love two countries."

I see those rivers all angry and in flood and I can only think of the good memories I have of those rivers. The rivers I know are the rivers that I have swam in and paddled a canoe on. I had the worst sunburn of my life on a Iowa river. My friend Deb and I decided to float down the Wapsipinicon on giant tractor tire inner tubes one fine summer day. We parked my car at a small country store on the banks of the "Wapsi" and then drove her car to a spot well up stream. We plopped our backsides into the oversized rubber tubes and floated down the river all afternoon. We just splashed each other, talked about everybody we knew and squealed when we thought that fish had tried to nibble us. I didn't even THINK about sunscreen. When we reached the bank where we had to get out, I could already see quite plainly where my swimming suit was and the white outline of the knot where I had tied the car keys on to prevent losing them. I knew I was going to be in for a rough night. I have never gone near a river without sunscreen again.

I've had so many picnics and been camping on the banks of these rivers that have caused the damage this month. I feel betrayed. These rivers are supposed to provide idylic summer memories not trauma!

Down the road and down stream from where the first photo was taken is a place called Sutliff. There aren't even enough houses there for it to be called a village. It used to be a ferry point until some bright spark put a bridge there. The bridge was still in use up until my senior year in high school, 1981. Knuckleheaded boys with their first cars would show off by trying to get over the bridge at speed. causing the wooden planks to leap about. It was probably due to people I knew that the bridge was finally blocked off to traffic and you could only get across on foot. There is still a small general store in Sutliff. If you're going to have a day canoeing on the Cedar River, the Sutliff General Store is a wonderful spot to start from. Well it used to be anyway.

This is a photo I have borrowed from my friend Tom.It was taken after the Sutliff Bridge was closed to vehicles.

Here is the bridge getting washed away. These photos were taken from the front porch of the general store I mentioned earlier. It broke my heart to see parts of my former life getting washed down the river this way.

My Iowa friends have written about the flooding in their blogs.



They've got more photos and Tom wrote a beautiful piece about the Sutliff bridge.

This is the second major flood that Iowa has suffered in 15 years. Friends' business have been washed away but thankfully nobody I know of has lost a house. Clawing back a living will be tough enough. Hang in there everybody! I pray that it doesn't happen again during my lifetime!

No comments: