We just returned from a nice visit to my hometown, Cedar Falls, Iowa. It was one of the many Iowa cities flooded in the last few weeks. In many respects, CF was a little more fortunate in that the Cedar River borders the town, and just the area immediately surrounding the river was flooded. I am sure, though, this is little consolation to the families who lost their homes. On the way to Cedar Falls, we drove through Cedar Rapids. The Cedar River bisects the city and the damage was everywhere. Never, in my thirteen years in Iowa, could I have imagined such flooding. I can honestly say that flooding never entered my mind (which it does frequently in St. Louis). As we drove through Cedar Rapids, everywhere there were piles of garbage from gutted homes. While the river is back in its banks, the damage will continue for years. Loss like that is devastating for anyone, but most of the area affected was low-income. I can't imagine that many of the families had enough reserve funds to pay for hotels, mortgages, rent, new clothing, etc. People in these communities have really banded together to help, but there is so much work to do. When I was in New Orleans last fall, the slow rate in which rebuilding takes was very evident. While many of us generously donated our time and treasure, it is not enough. Rebuilding is not a one-stop shop, it is a decades long process. My heart breaks for all that these people are facing.
After witnessing these two Mother Nature driven events (and reading about so many other natural tragedies), I have been really pondering our role within nature. Obviously, we have little control over natural occurrences, but that doesn't seem to keep us from trying. We build levees, live on fault lines, on the coast, on the plains; always trying to make our homes more secure - lulling ourselves into invincibility. But, who are we really kidding? Nature is bigger then us all. She doesn't care who we are, what we own, or what hardships we are currently facing. She is indiscriminate in her destruction. There is no reason to ask why. We are all vulnerable is some way. We are all at risk in losing everything. That is why we need to be there for our neighbor that has. We are all one step away from a flood, drought, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, avalanche, etc. We need to extend a hand when we are able.
ps - I truly believe that nature is a neutral entity that provides both perceived good and bad. It is humans that try to bend the forces of nature to their will and question it when it does not respond.