In times like these, heroes are everywhere

Friday, May 17, 2002

We live in an area that has experienced the ravages of flooding countless times. But each new flood brings losses, suffering, heartbreak and pain, no matter how many times we've lived through the rising waters and the mess that's left behind.

This year's flooding has been punctuated by damaging windstorms, which have left death and destruction in their wake. Together the one-two punch of flood and wind has taken its toll, both emotionally and physically, on thousands of our relatives, friends and neighbors.

And the worst may be long from over. The flooding Mississippi River is expected to crest Sunday, but that forecast came before a new storm blew into the area with more heavy rain. In particular, much of the heaviest rain was falling in areas to the north of us, which means that runoff eventually will reach our rain-saturated streams and add to the flooding conditions.

Windstorms wreak their own kind of havoc. In the wake of a tornado or other damaging wind, you pick up the pieces and rebuild. But after a flood, you're left with your home, automobiles and worldly possessions covered with wet muck that seems at times all but impossible to clean up. The flood itself is terrible, but the mess it leaves is almost too much to bear.

Nonetheless, many people who are flood victims resign themselves to the backbreaking tasks that will make their homes livable again. They do this for many reasons -- reasons that sometimes are not immediately obvious to anyone who has never personally experienced the devastation of a flood.

Whatever those reasons, there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who give their time and effort to both trying to prevent flood damage and to helping clean up in the aftermath.

These are the people who work for hours at a stretch filling sandbags and putting them where they will do the most good to keep rising water at bay. These are the people who lend a hand to remove the mud and clean treasured family possessions after the floodwaters have receded. In more ways than can be counted, these volunteers are heroes who pitch in just because it's the right thing to do. They rarely receive recognition for their troubles other than the heartfelt thanks of those individuals who are helped.

Meanwhile, farmers in our area are genuinely concerned about getting into their fields to plant crops that already are way behind schedule. This is one of those years that proves an old adage: Don't pray for rain, because your prayers may be answered. Unceasingly.

For what it's worth, here are a few words of deep gratitude to those wonderful people who show up in times like these and, without a big to-do, pitch in and help wherever they are needed. Thank you. It's easy to see that your reward comes from the satisfaction of knowing you did what you could. Your contribution is certainly appreciated.

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