The evening news showed flooded towns, displaced people, and businesses shut down — some forever. Knee-deep water submerged the early season corn, wheat, and soybeans; layers of sand and gravel washed from the river covered productive farmland; and the floodwaters carried much of the area’s livestock downriver.
The governor, and then the President of the United States, declared the flooded communities federal disaster areas. The National Guard was called in to secure the affected areas, and the American Red Cross and Salvation Army quickly established shelters and food distribution centers. Soon, state and federal disaster teams began helping people regain a sense of direction in their lives. The media covered the Midwest floods story for a full week. But soon, the newspaper headlines and television broadcasts turned to newer, more pressing events, and the flood became yesterday’s news. Outside the affected areas, the storms faded into memory. Those who experienced the floods first-hand will never forget the ordeal of the spring and summer of 2008. That flood, and others, leave their mark for many years.
For the flood victims, rebuilding will take time — years in some cases — and the loss of personal mementos, family heirlooms, and pictures will be felt forever. Before the 2008 floods were over, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued 14 Federal Flood and Windstorm disaster declarations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio. There is no way to predict when the next flood will strike or what community will be affected, but we know with certainty that floods will strike again.