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Column

Recalling a heartbreaking boat ride through a flooded village

High water brings back 1993 memories

Water is precious to us all, but we lose sight that water is very powerful. Many are suffering because water is out of bounds and is taking over where some of us live. We are powerless to stop the rain and, of course, this reminds us of our powerlessness over many things.

In 1993, Don’s elderly mother and stepfather lived behind a levee on the flood plain of the Mississippi south of Quincy. The stepfather had never seen the levee fail, and so they stayed in their home.

The levee broke, and they stood in their friend’s house on the bluff and watched the water fill the valley.

We packed and drove down there. A friend had a fishing boat and said he would take us to their house to retrieve what we could. We drove to an overpass, and all you could see was an ocean of water. The entire valley was flooded. An occasional barn stood halfway submerged, and the little town of Hull was nothing but drowned streets and buildings.

The gentleman took us through the deadly quiet streets. It was hot, and an awful smell was over the town, from the broken elevator bins of grain.

Filthy water flowing silently underneath us, no bird’s song, but one cat was on the roof of a house, mewing. All the houses stood silent, filled with dirty water. The flood owned the town and all its living things.

With hip waders, Don managed to get a window in the kitchen open, and water was up to the counter. There was a full basement in that house, and I thought how the water had broken the basement windows and spent hours filling that house before it even reached the first floor.

We got her microwave and toaster, put them in the boat and left that pitiful little town, quiet and alone again. They found a place to live, moved their furniture from a friend’s barn and started to live again.

Each area of our country has some kind of threat, and we get through it because others help us. That was the flood of 1993, and to the weather advisers’ amazement, a new record is set. Now the cleanup. The scouring, the bleaching, the loss of things precious.

Again, it teaches us humility and a community awareness for others in need. Thanks for listening, and help whenever you can. It is called kindness.

Note to readers: Nedda Simon of rural Princeton can be reached at neddasimon@ymail.com.

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