Saturday, June 14, 2008

Falling Water

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

We seem to be in the middle of a flood year.

Storms began to hit the Midwest, recently, causing significant flooding. This week, the storms returned, flooding great swathes of communities up to their roofs and treetops. Tens of thousands fled, and at least nine died. Neighbors came together to save each others' lives and property, and charities responded with efficient, practical support. Governmental agencies sprang into action, as well, with a speed that seems to indicate they have learned something from the Katrina disaster.

Now, as the waters recede, they leave filth and disease and fouled water supplies. Badly needed corn crops may be ruined, thousands are homeless and afraid, and hundreds of businesses are in jeopardy. Levees have buckled in Iowa and Illinois, and some rivers have yet to crest. More storms are expected this week.

Through all this, we look for reasons. Is it climate change, or just another cycle? Are people building in risky areas, or ones just periodically susceptible to flood? Is this just another trial of life, or are we witnessing the beginning of darker days? It is hard to place the floods and quakes and hurricanes and volcanic eruptions and tornadoes in perspective, when the pattern of natural history is clearest when viewed across centuries or millennia.

But, here’s some perspective: Should you feel that dark forces gather on our horizons to visit disaster upon us, think of China, where a major flood has taken over fifty lives, and caused the evacuation of a million people. One of the flooded regions is Sichuan, where 70,000 lives were lost in the recent earthquake. Over 17,000 souls are still missing. The forecast in that area calls for 10 more days of rain.

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