Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Nightmare In Iowa

How do you offer solace or comfort to those whose everyday lives have been torn asunder by the devastating floods rolling through our country's midsection? I've seen the TV news footage daily this week. It's terrible to watch, let alone trying to imagine living through it. Especially when you live a thousand miles away here in Michigan.

Then I got an e-mail from Iowa. It was from my buddy Bob, who normally teaches college in Virginia but who with his wife maintains a separate residence in Iowa as she teaches there herself. I haven't seen him in years, not since we took a rather harrowing canoe trip together in the wilds of Minnesota, but we e-mail eachother often as we complain about life's trials and tribulations. Just not in the summer when he's on break from his teaching duties. So this e-mail was a surprise. Here's some of what it said:

"Been in Iowa since May 20, what a nightmare here.

My wife is in Fla. reading SAT essays and I'm stuck here trying to finish a course, keep the two kids, and deal with a flood. People literally canoed down the street here. Could be worse; the flood waters literally stopped in the driveway. Of course the foot of raw sewage in the basement hasn't been any fun. Had to wade through about 10 inches worth to get to the circuit-breakers to turn off the electricity down there and save the Wii I bought the kids two days before. Probably not a smart idea but had no idea what else to do.

Trying to deal with this in a town where I know no one hasn't been fun. A couple of my wife's friends came to help get some of the stuff out of the basement after I had gotten lots of the sewage out. But dealing with sewage filled carpets hasn't been fun. Had to cut them up to get them out. Water from the high water table is still leaking in.

And just when I taught, screw this, I'll just take the kids to Michigan they closed off two interstates. And most of the roads to the interstates are closed anyway. And just when I think perhaps I'll get out of here soon I see the Mississippi has decided to flood.

I'm in the midst of a Presidential Disaster area and in places the water still hasn't crested.

Okay, venting off."

Gee, what a pickle. A stinky pickle too. True, Bob wasn't suffering nearly as much as those families whose homes are up to their attics in Mississippi muck, but I thought I should respond with something to lift his spirits. (Though I thought about telling him this was divine retribution for his years of bashing my fav U of M Wolverines, he being an alum of rival Michigan State).

Anywhere, here's some of what I wrote back:

"Holy cow! I concur 100 per cent--sounds like a nightmare situation. Wish I could help. Maybe you could load the kids into a canoe, head up the Mississippi and I could pick you up somewhere and drive you here to Michigan. Those canoeing skills might come in handy yet.

I don't know though. It does sound like you're in deep sh--, er, sounds like you're in deep. With all the tornados, flooding, earthquakes in China, cyclones in Burma, Wendy and I believe the apocalypse is nigh. You'll just have to deal with it I guess.

I'll get this out quickly before the floodwaters wash away your computer too. I see you have the sympathy of the President if that's any consolation. I wouldn't worry too much about the Wii. You're sure to get federal disaster aid so that can be replaced, probably at little if any cost. Course those who have lived through Katrina might argue with me there."

Then I offered some family gossip from my end, though nothing nearly as newsworthy. Hard to say whether trying to inject some humor into the situation made it better or worse. But as I often like to say, hope it helped.


Blogger Betty said...

Humor always helps, especially in a situation like this which sounds horrendous, but at least Bob doesn't have any loved ones who have been harmed. So humor is probably just what the doctor ordered. It reminds me of a saying my mother used to use: He's up sh** creek without a paddle!

I just can't get over the sewage in the basement. I don't think I could handle that.

This is just another reminder for me to count my blessings!


1:53 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Any guy who wades through poop to save a Wii should be worshiped by his kids. Trust, me, the Wii would be the first thing to go if I were in that situation.

I feel so bad for everyone up there. The image burned in my mind is of the house that literally broke in two and was carried away by the flood.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Deb said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friens. My heart and my prayers go out to those poor families.

On the flip side, we're in a terrible drought here.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

We're in a drought here, too, and having experienced conditions when I lived in Kansas City, I really don't know which is worse. It just blows my mind that we can have such radically different climate conditions across the nation.

I'll be keeping your friend and his family in my heart.

10:15 PM  
Blogger amarkonmywall said...

This flooding has been a terrible thing. I was still thinking, "there's flooding on the news" when I was making arrangements to meet up with a girlfriend halfway between Minn. and Chicago- and we discovered that everything is flooded out. Then I started watching more closely- it's bad. Here in the city we have stagnant storm drains that can't empty and the stench is bad but so far, knock wood.

"The apocalypse is nigh. You'll just have to deal with it, I guess." You're a droll guy, Dave.

4:30 AM  
OpenID caroldee said...

WOw Dave sounds like you did the best you could at trying to help him. you are right though so many moved out and are going to move on to other places. At least, not like Katrina, they had time to get some cities and towns evacuated. Knowing someone who is directly involved...well that is so hard. Hope the waters subside and the smell goes with it. It will be YEARS for a clean up.. I know from personal experience. My aunt had a levy break flood her out and she is lucky that she is even in her house. SO many are not yet.. it has been almost two years now. Sad days for them so true.. take care enjoy our wonderful weather.. : )

7:50 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

You said many, many more words than I could have thought of. All that comes to my mind is...."OMG!"

12:33 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BETTY--Yes, it definitely could be worse for him. I've seen video of whole homes being washed away.

FRED--My son tried for over a year to get a Wii, just finally now getting one. If there were a fire in his apartment, I think the Wii would be the first thing saved. (Well, maybe the dog and the Wii).

DEB/LYNILU--I just heard on the radio the terrible drought conditions out west. And new record high temperatures too. Makes you realize what a big country we live in.

VICKIE--Droll? I always need a dictionary handy when I read your stuff. Let's see . . . "Amusing in a wry or odd way." Yeah, sounds like me.

CAROLDEE--Yeah, when's the last time that Michigan had the wonderful weather. Kinda warm, but I'll take it over the 109 degrees I heard it was in California.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

I have a friend who lost everything they own in the May 28h (?) tornados in Iowa. Last I heard, they were also dealing with the floods.

He retired last year from the company I work for, so many of us donated money in hopes that it would help a little.

I know money can't replace everything, but the important thing is that he and his wife and their son and daughter-in-law, who live down the street are alive and uninjured.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

Your poor friend and his family. My heart goes out to them and all their neighbors.
what a great dad-I hope his kids appreciate his truly death-defying heroics feat on their behalf

9:27 PM  
Blogger Matty said...

That is horrible...I really feel for those people. The only good thing I can say about my stay with my grandson at the hospital is that I haven't watched the news at all since Mar. 31/08. Ignorance can be bliss.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

NANKIN--It helps to have friends and family in times of need. It's good just to have friends and family period.

CARINE--My buddy goes out of his way to please his kids. I'm sure he ranks high on the fatherhood scale.

MATTY--Sometimes I have to turn off the news too. Welcome back! Haven't heard from you in a while.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, so sad what is going on in Iowa. I feel so bad for those people. I count my blessings every day and thank God for all that I have. I know that it can be taken from me at any moment and I am thankful for my life and family. I am glad that your friend still has a house, many of those people don't even have that.

Let him know that all of your blog friends are praying for him and we wish him well. FYI: It's hot here too, but I am not going to complain.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~ Like the rest of the folk, I am so very sorry for your friend and for all the others who have been in those dreadful floods and tornadoes.We hear it on our news here too. I hope it all gets back to normal soon.
In the game of cricket, there are batsmen and bowlers who bowl to the batsmen and try to get them out. Glenn McGrath was a very fast bowler and one of the best.Jane was 42 and her funeral is tomorrow, which she helped plan.
I hope the car repairman was kind to you and you survived it.
Take care, Regards, Merle.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave it to you to try and lighten a
I'd say it definitely helped. Hey...they always said laughter was the best medicine and I've always agreed with that.

2:03 PM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ I know exactly what you are saying. I remember just a few months ago when I was doing my posts about Snake Alley and Burlington Iowa and the Big Muddy's dinner we had there. Well... I just saw pictures of that area and it has just been devastated. How sad for those folks. But at least the loss of life was minimal if you look for an upside to this problem. ~ jb///

11:05 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--He actually maintains two residences, one in Iowa and one in Virginia. So he's not hurting.

MERLE--We got lucky with the car repairman for a change. Our bill was a lot less than expected.

TERRI--I always thought it best to laugh at our own misfortune. Even dark humor is better than no humor at all.

LAZY BLOGGER--True, at least these people saw the danger coming and were able to escape themselves.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Snow said...

You write very well.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:31 PM  

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