Sunday, July 6, 2008

Flood of 2008 Part III

So ... I went home and fell into bed about 6:00 AM, dead to the world, after setting the alarm for 11:00 in case they needed me that evening. In fact, I slept so deeply that it wasn't until after the alarm went off that I discovered a message on voice mail telling me that no one would be working on Friday or through the weekend. I never heard the phone ring.

The following days became a concern financially. I work the evening shift, and we weren't needed in the clean up effort at Mercy. I am not a morning person. My usual bedtime is well after midnight, and I haul my butt out of bed around 10:00 AM. I am also slow to wake up and so enjoy drinking coffee and reading the newspaper and checking my email before leaving for work shortly after 2:00 PM, by which time I'm finally fully awake.

The problem was that I wasn't heading to work. I was sitting at home feeling useless. Because of my uncertain work schedule - I never knew when they'd need me to come back on evenings - I didn't feel able to volunteer and make a commitment I might not be able to meet. So the next time I talked to my nurse manager I volunteered to work a day shift to get our unit ready to accept patients again. Then for the next two days Mercy offered a series of educational sessions across the street at a middle school which kindly allowed us to use their facilities. I was able to renew my CPR certification and attended a myriad of inservices that were for the most part very useful. Of course, both sessions were on the day shift. Grr. My unit reopened on Monday 6/30/08. We had one patient who had put off his elective surgery until our unit reopened. An old friend, he told me he wouldn't have it done anywhere but Mercy. We now have 15 or 16 patients, still far below our usual patient census; but it's a start.

More generally, the flood waters have receded which leads me to a rant. I find it somewhat aggravating that because the Cedar River is now below flood stage we've fallen off the national news media radar. If you haven't been following this story on or on one of the local tv stations web sites you might think everything is hunky dory here in Cedar Rapids. It most definitely is not. Downtown is filthy, as are the surrounding neighborhoods. Trash is everywhere, waiting to be hauled away. As has been said many times at my church, this is not a sprint. It's a marathon. My efforts and those of hundreds of others at Mercy and elsewhere throughout the city were only the starting gun.

We are now in clean up and recovery mode. My beloved public library and the rest of downtown probably won't be able to achieve the "new normal" for at least a year. Homeowners and residents in the 100 and even the 500 year flood plains
are anxiously waiting for word on when or if they will be allowed to rebuild their homes. They are living in limbo. The word here is that all the homes in the 100 year flood plain will be demolished which would mean a FEMA buyout, but that could take up to 2 years. Meanwhile those in the 500 year flood plain deal with even more uncertainty. My friend whose home was flooded up to the rafters lives on the edge of of the 500 year flood plain. She was allowed by the city to go in and clean. Her house is now gutted to the studs and the sub flooring. There it sits while she waits for the gears of government to grind oh slowly.

Next comes the rebuilding mode. Truthfully, I hope and pray that our city council, mayor, and city manager are looking that far ahead in this marathon; but for most of us it's a matter of what we can do right now. I have contributed to legitimate charities and encourage you to do the same. I have provided food to a local program feeding the hungry and volunteer there as well. I made a promise to my friend whose home was flooded to help with painting once she is finally allowed to rebuild. Yet it still doesn't seem like enough.

I'll write new posts as things progress, but for now good night.

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About Me

I work in health care, love books, love music, enjoy the internet, my friends, and my routine. 8-)