Sunday, August 8, 2010

When Hard Rains Fall

Floods can have a variety of causes but in most instances it is rain, rain and more rain. Last night we had a very heavy, sustained rain. Sheets of water fell from the sky faster than the ground could absorb it. The window well filled and water came into the basement through a window there. For a couple hours I had to periodically empty the window well using a bucket.

Our house is on higher ground so at worst I have been only inconvenienced. This is not the experience people in Iowa experienced when the Mississippi overfilled after heavy sustained rains in 1993. When your home fills with five, ten or twenty feet of water, it is more than just a nuisance. Furniture is ruined, property is ruined, and there is a huge mess to clean up as the receding water leaves silt and debris everywhere it has slowed.

I remember that Iowa flood because I was driving across Wisconsin listening to an audio version of Michener's Mexico. The newspapers had said that if Iowa got one more inch of rain (it had been raining heavily on and off for a week) the river would burst the flood dams and Iowa would be underwater. Three inches fell that day and volunteers spent weeks helping clean up the mess.
At this moment flooding has done serious damage across parts of Asia where unremitting rains have mercilessly caused the worst flooding in memory. According to reports an estimated 4 million Pakistanis are facing food shortages and an estimated 127 people have been killed in China. India, too, has been hard hit with an estimated 132 people killed in Kashmir by flash floods. And an estimated 2,000 people are missing in China's Gansu province as a result of the deluge. (Here's a two minute snapshot on YouTube.)

When I went to bed last night I was planning to write about the flood damage in Northern Mexico caused by Hurricane Alex last month. I did not know that two hours later I would be using a bucket to keep water from going into my basement during a driving rain. I also did not know about the misery in Pakistan, China and India caused by the excessive rains this summer. As serious as the loss of life is, the widespread loss of crops is likewise tragic.

While the Internet buzzes about Sandra Bullock, LeBron James, Michelle Obama, and the WikiLeaks, let's remember those who have been displaced by the flooding and devastation beyond our borders.

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