Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stay Strong, Iowa

I haven't been back to Iowa City since leaving three years ago, and if anyone I knew is still living there, we haven't kept in touch, other than adding each other on Facebook. My time in Iowa gets smaller in my rear-view mirror each day, but whether I ever visit again or not, that town and the University of Iowa will always be important to me. I realize this sounds entirely melodramatic, but I feel like that place and the people I met saved my life.

So when I see what Iowa City (and the greater Eastern Iowa region) are going through right now, my heart breaks. I can't even imagine that most of the roads and sidewalks I navigated are under water right now. The photos from the Iowa City Press-Citizen and The Daily Iowan are jolting.

This photo was taken just a couple of blocks from my old apartment (which was evacuated at the end of last week), and I believe the flood waters got even higher over the past couple of days. Fortunately, the Coralville Reservoir finally crested over the weekend, water levels are (slowly) receding, and water can start getting pumped out of campus buildings and residences. Though it could be a while before any of those places are deemed safe.

Somehow, I managed to avoid severe weather emergencies, such as these floods and tornadoes during my two years in Iowa. I remember my father telling me I needed to become familiar with shelter or evacuation proceedings during tornado season whenever he heard about things getting nasty in that part of the country. I shrugged it off back then, thinking nothing was going to happen. I had no idea how lucky I really was.

One thing I do know is that Iowans will do everything to help each other get through this. Those are some of the friendliest people I've ever met in my life, and they care deeply about their neighbors and their community. No one will have to suffer through this alone. It's just not how they do things in Hawkeye Country.

If you'd like to help, you can make a contribution to the UI Flood Relief Fund.