As 2019 drew to a close, the year felt like a timid downer. Not the robust nature of business we felt for several years before, but certainly not a horrible year.
Now look at 2020. Stock market crash and subsequent recovery. Murder hornets. Oil prices crash. And then you get coronavirus or COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 or whatever you want to call it. Political debate between people “to mask or not to mask.” You can add a handful of other topics to this list. A year of unfortunate firsts. Well, after Monday, we also get to add the Iowa Derecho of 2020.
For historical purposes, let me take you back in a time machine. 2008 was the year of the flood in Cedar Rapids. A massive section of town (and other communities) was underwater for a few days. There was no stopping it. After the waters receded, two of us drove downtown to get a lay of the land. Our home office in Marion was spared, but our greater community was not. Bridges and roads were swept away in places. Garbage was floated into and left up in the trees. Houses floated off their foundation and were set at odd angles in the yard. I’ll never forget the clothesline with bedding left behind that clearly indicated what had been washed before compared to the muddy water that stained the soaked portions. That storm forever impacted our community.
And now the Derecho of 2020. Sustained winds of 112 miles per hour screamed across our gentle hills. 10 million acres of fertile Iowa crops were flattened in 30 minutes. Trees that had stood firm for 40 or 80 or 120 years were either uprooted or split into sections. Sometimes they were laid on, and sometimes they were dropped on, people’s cars and houses. If a tree was able bend and survive the rage, its leaves that faced the storm were shredded off the midrib into confetti and subsequently plastered to the sides of cars and houses. Power lines were (and still are) draped across and over the roadways. Metal siding and shingles were indiscriminately torn from the any structure at will. One twenty foot section of metal siding is draped from utility lines about thirty feet in the air as though it is a blanket hanging from a clothesline. Driving is less about speed and more like an obstacle course: dodge trees and branches, look for signs that are bent to the ground, and try not to stare at stoplights that are turned away from the direction of traffic if they are left on the pole at all. What communications do exist are less like the lighting speed of broadband access and more like the buzz/click/beep of a phone modem. And, as purveyors of electrical products, perhaps the greatest sting is that our cities remain dark 48 hours later. These are the most interesting of times.
But this is not a story of depression or hopelessness or whining. This is a story about winning. (Cue Survivor’s song, “Eye of the Tiger”)
Twelve years after the Flood of 2008, we can still see some of the scars. What hurt us then is now a reminder of what we have survived. Not even the Derecho of 2020 can wipe away the scars; it can only add to them. Twelve years from now, these new scars will be but another part of the great saga of 2020. These scars will no longer hurt or bleed, they will be our testament to surviving. Various natural and other events have always left their marks on our communities and on our lives. That is what living is – not giving in. What are the great stories of your past and where you live? Perhaps you survived an earthquake, tornado or hurricane. Maybe it was a house fire or a tragic car accident. Perhaps the largest employer in town packed up to move elsewhere or simply went out of business. In the worst cases you lost people you loved. In spite of what has happened to you and your communities, and in spite of the derecho and COVID-19 and flooding – we are ALL here in spite of the hardships we’ve been asked to overcome. It is moments like this that define our relationships. It is moments like this that take us out of our comfort zones. It is moments like this that test our resolve and define our character. And when the pain subsides and the scars are firmly in place, it is then that we look back with this beautiful mixture of pride and humility to know that it was a moment that now defines the essence and color of our lives. The gift we give to the future is our will to survive.
When it is all over (and that can’t be soon enough!), we will all be able to look at 2020 and realize just how much this year has defined who we will become.
Have a Great evening,