Saturday, June 14, 2008

Helpless.

I think I'm feeling pretty helpless. There's massive, heartbreaking destruction going on a mile or two away where I sit in a cool, dry house, and there is very little I (or really anyone) can do. We certainly can't stop it. Water is pretty powerful like that.

The Iowa City and Coralville area are cut in half by the Iowa River. I, like many others, have to cross it to get to work. The main campus of the University of Iowa and most of Iowa City are on the east side, and Coralville, the University Hospital, and the University arts campus are on the west side. I think we're very close to being down to a single bridge. They instructed people yesterday to get to your side of the river and stay put. If you must travel do it by foot or by bike.

I made it into work yesterday without incident (and Rykert and my sister made it home from the hospital). I arrived at work to a barren parking lot, as those traveling from the Cedar Rapids area and the Davenport area couldn't make it. Finally, by 2 I realized that I was "non-essential" (should I be offended) and headed home fearing that it might be difficult to get home if I waited.

Rykert and I hopped on our bikes and went to pitch in with the sandbagging efforts. It was an interesting commentary on the social contract. People just showing up, as they have all week, and getting to work without instruction or organization. In fact, I'm not sure who was in charge (the city of Coralville, FEMA, the Marriott hotel?). After bagging sand for an hour or two, we were taken down by the river just north of the new Marriott hotel and Conference Center to help build a wall around some sort of pump. I don't know what it was, but I was told that it was essential to maintaining our water. It was the most exhausting work I've ever done, and my back is feeling it today.

I took some pictures with my phone (not exactly good form to show up to volunteer and spend your time gawking and photographing the scene), but I can't figure out how to get them to my computer.

So, I'll send you around the web for pictures:

First, look at this picture Debbie posted... I can't get over this picture. I love the Wig and Pen. They have the absolute best pizza and onion rings. The only reason I don't go there more often is because it is almost always crowded, a very popular place. I just hope they are able to rebuild. This picture was taken at some point yesterday, and the water is supposed to rise up to 4 or 5 more feet. Tragic.

Our local paper has also posted some pictures of the area...

There are also some interesting photos on Flickr. I'm particularly struck by this photo of men from a nearby Amish community who came into Iowa City to help...

5 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

SockMamaLiz said...

I'm sending big hugs. This is so heartbreaking. I love this state so much and it's just getting wrecked. It's so hard to watch! Try to keep perspective... this too shall pass. We'll all bounce back and help rebuild. Hugs hugs!

Knittripps said...

Being in Iowa alum, I am amazed by some of the photos I am seeing. I called my best friend from college last night who still lives in IC. Fortunately she and her family are fine but she told me about all the damage. The DM area is in bad shape but Eastern Iowa is even worse off. Hugs and best wishes!

janna said...

The fact that the Amish came into town to help just sent me over the edge -- it made me realize just how truly awful this is.

Anya said...

I've been through the 1000 year flood in Grand Forks, ND in 1997 and I know the feeling of helplessness that you feel. A lot of lives ruined, changed, never the same. The only things you can hold on to is family and friendship. Good luck and God bless. Anya

Chelsea said...

I don't like being called non-essential either, but I am enjoying my forced vacation.

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