UNWRITER Ron Berry

April 19, 2009

Below this sign

Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 8:53 am
Tags: , , , ,

It rained. We are used to that. It snowed. We are used to it. In 2007/2008 it snowed a bit more that usual in the Dakota’s, Minnesota, and here. No problem. In the spring of 2008 the rivers swelled with the northern snowmelt. The Cedar River rose and was heading towards the annual flood. This is Iowa, in the Midwest. No problem, we’re used to it. We’re prepared for it. Then a railroad bridge, with end-to-end cars, fully loaded, collapsed.Problem!

We are not used to this. The water, quite untrained to stay within the confines of the banks, visited our fair city in places where this river has never been. The island, where our center of government was, disappeared. Every bridge, except the interstate, disappeared. Yes, we carped about it because the carp, catfish and every other river abiding creature now had our bridges. The bridges didn’t go down, the water came up. We exceeded our 500-year flood plan. A few years ago a record of nineteen feet was set. That record was shattered in 2008 when the river crested close to thirty-two feet. Downtown got wet.

This is Iowa, magic Iowa, field of dreams Iowa. “Build it and they will come” country. This is post nature’s havoc; the volunteers will flood the city with help, Iowa.

Case in Point

Angie had a house not far from the river. Her kids and grandkids spent an entire summer gutting this house and rebuilt it into a home. In this overly damp spring of 2008, she decided to wash the floors. The river offered to help, to a depth of thirteen feet. Kiss one dream home goodbye. The shed in their backyard has never been seen again.

She took the money FEMA offered and put a down payment on another house far from the maddening river. FEMA also gave her a mobile home to live in while her new house was fixed to habitable. This house is being turned into a home.

At this point a local-to-the-Midwest group called Jumpstart, was contacted to see if they could help. After many meetings and a lot of haggling, it was agreed something could be worked out. Working in conjunction with the coalition (a combined group of volunteer organizations such as United Way and others), a contractor was brought in. It was noted that the kitchen/bathrooms both upstairs and down, needed to be jacked up because they had settled over the years giving the floors a downward slope. That quarter of the house was ripped off. Problem solved. It will be rebuilt from the basement through the second floor.

Termites used this house for permanent banquets. They invited all their friends and family. Their dining area had to go. The volunteers showed the termites how to destroy the inside of a house in less than two weeks.

“Below This Sign, A Great City is Rebuilding”

Mount Trashmore may soon become twin peaks Trashmore. Almost every house (they are no longer homes), and business for dozens of blocks on either side of our now placid river has its insides, outside. Could one house have that much wood and plaster inside? Oh, the island returned, as did our bridges. The government however is scattered all over the city. Meanwhile back at Angie’s frame, er, house, the volunteers are busy.

Lloyd, Angie’s husband and his best friend Louis, are helping this group of volunteers by throwing the trash that used to be the insides, into the Green Giant sized dumpster.

Unpaid, traveling at their own expense, bringing their own tools, volunteers came from everywhere. There are people from Chicago and other places in Illinois. They came from Colorado, Arizona, New York, New Jersey and probably other places. What do you say to such wonderful people? Thank you sounds so easy, too pat. But that is all they ask. To these unsung hero’s, I dedicate this piece.

Thank you from a most grateful city.

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6 Comments »

  1. How heartening. Warmed my heart this morning. There ARE good people in the world. 🙂

    Comment by Marvin D Wilson — April 19, 2009 @ 9:10 am | Reply

  2. […] UNWRITER Ron Berry added an interesting post today on Below this signHere’s a small readingIt rained. We are used to that. It snowed. We are used to it. In 2007/2008 it snowed a bit more that usual in the Dakota’s, Minnesota, and here. No problem. In the spring of 2008 the rivers swelled with the northern snowmelt. The Cedar River rose and was heading towards the annual flood. This is Iowa, in the Midwest. No problem, we’re used to it. We’re prepared for it. Then a railroad bridge, with end-to-end cars, fully loaded, collapsed.Problem! We are not used to this. The water, quite untra […]

    Pingback by Topics about New-york » Blog Archive » Below this sign — April 19, 2009 @ 10:03 am | Reply

  3. Salute to those wonderful unsung heros! And thanks for singing their praise, Ron Twain! God bless them.

    Comment by Carol — April 19, 2009 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  4. Living on the hurricane battered Gulf Coast, I’ve seen firsthand the way good people flock to help those in need. I’m glad they make it up your way too, Ron!

    Comment by Joyce Scarbrough — April 20, 2009 @ 6:38 am | Reply

  5. Beautiful example that there ARE still good people out there. Thanks for the report, Ron

    Comment by Peg — April 20, 2009 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  6. Very heartwarming. I needed that today. Thank you.

    Comment by Debra Shiveley Welch — April 23, 2009 @ 8:23 am | Reply


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