Sunday, July 17, 2011

#MOflood Go Guard! 2011

I was going to write a story about the Flooding here in Missouri. I had been called up to active duty with the Missouri Air National Guard (my full time employer as a civil service technician) to help fight off the rising water to help save some of the farm land and homes along the Missouri River near a few small towns around the Carrollton MO area which is just north of the Missouri River about 30 minutes from I70 and about an hour and a half from Kansas City. The experience was one that I felt would not be very intimate with things I would normally find interesting or in the least bit beneficial, to myself, or anybody else for that matter. But I'm not ashamed to say, that I was wrong. Seeing the people out there fighting for what they would consider to be their livelyhoods is something I did not expect. When I normally see a bunch of farmland and cornfeilds I usually dont think much past the fact that it must be a pain to harvest all of that, and then to have to deal with the process of farming and the big food industry. Kind of like when I see the chicken trucks every day in the town I live in. I can't really feel sorry for them because I know that they are all on their way to the food plant where they will soon be turned into chicken nuggets and microwave dinners. But this experience was different. Even though I know that the life of a farmer is not easy, I could clearly see that these people (old and young) were in fear of loosing what they work their fingers to the bone for. In just the area I was in, I was standing up on one levee and heard one of the farmers mention that if the water were to break through here or at another point about 2 miles from there, that it would mean the annual salary of about 50-60 families would be gone, just like that (a snap of the fingers). And since I usually think of such a big scale, this really didn't mean that much to me, because how many families annual saleries were lost in Japan during the tsunami earlier this year? I bet more than 50-60. Probably more like 50-60 thousand, along with everything else they had owned, and even some of their loved one's lost, and pets, and everything else. But even though I have the ability to make such comparisons I still have the ability to separate the logical sense of those comparisons and to realize that every situation is different and to also realize that I do not have all of the facts to support most of my theories or ideas. Oh but anyway, I would look at these farming people and see that even though they knew that their livelyhood were at stake, it would not change who they were, their determination, and overall, their sense of the down home family that they most cherish. This community I was helping was some of the most gracious and farm friendly (pun intended) that I'd met in a long time. I can see that they live a humble life and that they really did need and appreciate the fact that the National Guard (Army and Air Force) was there. It gave them a sense of relaxed nervouseness. A feeling that even though they might lose a years long worth of income that there was people that cared about them, that the state cared, that the members of the Guard cared, and that a lot of us were all there for a common purpose. To help each other. That we are all family even though distanced by occupations and regionally different backgrounds. When I looked out at the cornfield from atop the levee bearing a water pressure that could have broke through at any time. It changed my outlook. I didn't see the food process of the nation. I just saw people. Just as the buildings and lives, boats and cars, and everything in the path of water washed through Japan as destructive as any other force on earth. The families in Missouri and the other surrounding states affected by the flood waters were no different. It's not the level of the devastation, but the level of the inner self to comprehend that loss... is loss.
Atop the Levee (Norborne, MO)

Heartland America
Carrollton, MO
I65 closed down to one lane only

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