Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As the flood waters start to recede, and I am thankful that my Memphis home, Delta cottage, and Delta farm have not flooded, my mind is literally flooding with thoughts about the Great Flood of 2011. Here are a few:

The fear and uncertainty, that I felt only briefly and that others are still feeling, as we wait for the waters to recede, keeping our fingers crossed that the levees will hold until the gates can be opened (mid-June?) and the water levels drop in the backwater Delta.

The understanding that we better prepare, at least a little, for a flood that will hopefully never happen. Packing up silver, family photographs, and other special momentos of our life and lives before us so we too can pass these treasures on to future generations.

The tough morale decisions that had to be made to sacrifice the homes and businesses of a few to spare such a hardship on the many.

The realization that political decisions made over the past 84 years both saved the backwater Delta (through the development of a network of mainline and backwater levees, channels, and flood gates) and still left it vulnerable because the final stage of flood control, pumps on the backwater side of the levee, were vetoed in 2008 by the EPA.

Whittington Levee near our 5-Mile Farm, Louise, MS 5/28/11
The economic impact on farmers that lost their crops; small businesses in small towns that have been washed away; casinos closed for 3 weeks leaving many jobless and tax revenues diminished.

The isolation, and general hassle, caused by flooded roads and highways.

Old 5-Mile Road east of Whittington Levee, Humphreys County 5/28/11
The brutal fact that, as devastating as the flood has been, the clean up will take longer and cost more, prolonging the suffering and economic damage.

But as horrible as the flood has been, there have been bright spots as well.

Normal, everyday people, started facebook pages to increase availability of accurate information and dispel rumors that only cause panic.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proved that they are, indeed, one of our country's best assets, acting with knowledge, skill, professionalism, all to support their goal of protecting us from the flood.

It was fun learning about sand boils, spillways, and that Google Earth is the easiest website to find the sea level of your home or business (who knew I would ever care?).

And natural disasters, do, in the end, bring people together. They remind us of our shared interests as well as our shared risk, pain, and even reward. They help build community and bind us to each other.

The Great Flood of 2011 10 days after the crest at Memphis, TN 5/20/11
I wonder if my grandchildren will ask me to tell them the stories of the Great Flood of 2011 the way I used to ask my Delta grandparents to tell me, once again, about the Great Flood of 1927. I hope they do but I hope they will not live through their own flood, and will only have my stories to tell their grandchildren.

No comments:

Post a Comment