Today’s headlines are filled with stories of floodwaters inundating homes and businesses near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, of evacuations, sandbagging, lock closings and barge traffic halted due to high water and debris. More rain is predicted across the Midwest and dire warnings of major flooding are being issued, as those farther downstream watch warily. It’s not that such stories are uncommon at this time of year, in fact, those who live and work near the great rivers know to expect the unexpected, especially in the spring. Still, one can’t help but notice how drastic and rapid the extremes have been in recent years.
It was just six months ago that 80% of the country’s farmland was in the worst drought since the dust bowl era of 1934. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers scrambled to keep the Mississippi navigable as water levels receded to near-record lows. Counties in 29 states were declared disaster areas as farmers helplessly watched their crops crumble onto cracked, parched land.
The previous May, seven states along the Mississippi River experienced a flood considered to be one of the worst of the past century. The photo below was taken at that time – the curve between the trees is the normal course of the River. You can see more and read my stories of that flood here http://bit.ly/harper2012flood
Extreme and devastating weather events of all sorts that were once considered hundred-year occurrences now headline our national news with alarming regularity. Besides floods and droughts, the news is filled with heart-wrenching stories of massive tornadoes and hurricanes, wildfires and blizzards. Like nearly everyone else, I have my opinions about the likelihood that at least some of this tumult is related to careless human disregard for the health of our planet. But, I am no scientist and if you think otherwise, I’m not the expert that can change your mind.
The undeniable fact is that many thousands of people are suffering heartbreaking losses due to our volatile weather. If it occurs to you to help in some way, whether that is with labor, donations, prayers or any large or small thing that might ease someone’s pain, do it! As my grandmother often said (long before it was a popular song), “What goes around…comes around.” And – if you’d like to share your story about giving or receiving help, I’d love to hear it! Peace, Gayle