Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Iowa Floods 2008: Part Two

As I walked up to the apartment of my friends, there were four clear plastic bags of kids toys on the sidewalk out front and nothing more. I grabbed those and stuffed them into the small spaces around the middle seat that I had folded to utilize the space as best as I could since I fully expected to stuff every nook and cranny with their belongings as were everyone else in the complex. So when I walked back to the apartment, went inside and asked what's next only to be told that was all, I was dumbstruck.

The husband told me they had talked to a janitor of the complex and he said the forecast was that the water would only reach the parking lot out front. I stepped outside to gauge the distance and saw that there was all of maybe six inches of rise between the parking lot and their doorsill. Thinking back at how Cedar Rapids, despite knowing how high the water was going to be and having days to protect itself was still overwhelmed when it came, I told the husband that if it were me, I would get everything I could out of his apartment starting with the most valuable and working down. He went on about how insurance would cover this and I countered by asking if he specifically had very expensive flood insurance because normal insurance doesn't cover floods when you live in the 500-year flood plain as he did. He didn't know. I went on to say that getting anything reimbursed from insurance may take years of negotiations with the burden of proof on him to show that what he had was as valuable to the insurance company as what it was to him. Finally he relented a bit and we carried out the stereo electronics and computer. Again they balked at saving more and again I politely tried to persuade them to take more. I at least got them to take their pictures, some books and some of their small electrical appliances in the kitchen. In the end, I had probably about a fourth of what I could have hauled and finally gave up on trying to persuade them to take more. It was their stuff and it wasn't worth ruining a friendship over if they really didn't want to take it. Perhaps they had some insurance scam in mind. I don't know.

They decided to go back to Pennsylvania where the husband works to wait out the flood so I secretly was happy that I wasn't going to have to share my house with them for a couple weeks, at least not yet. If they do indeed get flooded, it will take some time to find new digs especially since thousands of other people who were flooded out will be looking as well. That means they might end up living at our place and commuting but I'll cross that bridge when I get there and enjoy the time I have. We promised to give them information on their apartments as we came across it and wished them well.

Since all roads east and the direction of Pennsylvania were closed, they headed south to out run the flood to a river crossing and we drove on into town to do some shopping and perhaps get a bite to eat. As expected, the 'Strip' as it was called was practically deserted because one end of it was under six feet of water and heading our way. The stores were open and we did our shopping and used up a gift certificate at Red Lobster with other flood refugees with no place to go. The trip out of town was quick though the inbound traffic of moving vans, trucks, etc was still bumper to bumper. It was on that trip home that I learned about Tim Russert. For the second time that day, I was dumbstruck.

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