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godspeed, midwesterners!

June 21, 2008

The last count I heard was 20. As in 20 levees failed along the U.S. Mississippi River. That was yesterday and more are expected to give. As the pregnant river waddles downstream, she swallows more and more homes and businesses. People’s lives. The footage and photos are sad and I know that they don’t begin to show the full extent of her fury.

For nearly two weeks we’ve followed this news story, and yet not once have I heard whining or fussing about whose fault it is that heavy rains – too much, too fast – saturated the land and overfilled the river. One by one the backup plans of folks, ordinary and expert, along her banks have failed. Still none of those hearty midwesterners point fingers or whine or lament, “When is the government going to save us?”

It’s called the Katrina of the midwest, as in Hurricane Katrina from 2005. The disaster seems to be equally mammouth. But the hard-working people in Central America wouldn’t dream of blaming someone else for choosing to live along a river or for staying in their home if they were told to evacuate. They take responsibility and ownership for their choices and the resulting actions.

Will they need help from the government: local, state and federal? Of course! Do they deserve some help from government? Of course! Those with insurance will benefit somewhat from that. Having had one home of my own flood, I know firsthand that even the best insurance coverage never begins to cover all you lose in a disaster. And money never repairs anguish.

Like those in New Orleans and the state of Mississippi back in 2005, Americans in the midwest are now on a new journey. Not one they asked for or wanted. They will move on and they will recover. They will learn from their losses and grow as individuals. I hope those recovering from Hurricane Katrina are trying to do the same…they can still learn from America’s heartland and its people.

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