Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Which I Relate A Recurring Dream

The other night I had one of my recurring dreams. This one had me swaying back and forth.

In the dream I am standing with me feet firmly planted on the ground. My feet never move. But my body is able to bend forward, sideways, backwards at about a 45 degree angle. It's almost as if my body has a spring-like action to it...I sway slowly forwards, backwards, sideways, enjoying the movement, stretching the bend as far as I can and then swaying in another direction. All the while my feet remain flat, firmly planted.

There is no stress to the movement. My body is in fine control and the movement is easy. I haven't a clue where this dream comes from nor why it recurs.

Please forgive the amateur drawings. I don't have a photo. *smile*

As for some of my other recurring dreams? You can read about them here.

(It is quite truthful to say you really did not learn a lot by reading today's post.)

*Heading off to read Chapter 2 of First Chronicles.*
(that may be more useful than regaling this dream)


Monday, June 27, 2011

Little Ms. Kitty Couldn't Care Less....

Our obsession fascination with the rising waters of the Missouri River has caused us to make a periodic "two dollar tour" over the toll bridge at Decatur, Nebraska. It's not enough that we can access river information online. We want to do a visual inspection as well! And so we do. And so are many others. I'm thinking the toll bridge is making a bundle this summer...just from "two dollar tourists".

Our little town sits seven miles from the river and one would think that was substantial distance in terms of flood risk. But our elevation is only a few feet higher than the current river stage. So we're concerned.

Today as we headed back to Iowa little Ms. Kitty crossed the road in front of us. She did not look either way and was unafraid of our slowly approaching car. Ms. Kitty is pregnant. But by her placid pace it is easy to see that Ms. Kitty is not a worrier. (click on the photo for a better view of Ms. Kitty)

Back on the Iowa side the rising water is well over the riverbank and is flooding adjacent lowlands. The water has crept to the edge of the highway and the Iowa Department of Transportation is trying to keep this road open.

There are many who cross the bridge daily to go to work or to get health care in our small town hospital. This road is vital. If it were to be inundated folks would have to travel about 35 miles upstream or downstream to the next bridge. We're praying this barrier will keep this road open.

Since I'm trusting God through all of this I think I need to be a little less anxious about it Ms. Kitty. She may be a lot smarter than I think.

Last night the IDOT closed this road. Read here. They report..."Severe river bank erosion caused by flooding along the east abutment of the Decatur bridge has prompted the closure.

The Iowa DOT, Burt County [Nebraska] Bridge Commission (operator of the toll bridge) and Nebraska Department of Roads will be conducting an assessment of the situation to determine what, if any, measures can be taken to prevent further erosion and make the bridge safe for travel.

The public will be informed as additional information becomes available. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time."
A seven mile trip has now become somewhere close to 85 miles.

The IDOT also plans to "temporarily" close access to another bridge tomorrow (Wednesday June 29). This time it will be the bridge at Blair, Nebraska. That means there will be a 100-mile stretch of the river with no crossing (Sioux City to Omaha). I don't know how long is "temporarily".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It Ain't Over....And It Won't Be Over For a Long Time Yet!

It ain't over yet, Folks. This flood is going on and on and on and on. Until who knows how long. Into August and beyond.

The five dams above us on the Missouri River are being pushed to their limits to contain flood waters that have to go somewhere. Water is being released as high as possible and as low as possible. In other words as high as possible in order to maintain the integrity of the dams...ya know...prevent them from collapsing. They can hold only so much water and the heavy rains and melting snow packs are pouring water into the system like you wouldn't believe.

And it's being released as slowly as possible in order to prevent even worse flooding than is already occurring. There are already a half million acres of farm ground flooded, not to mention homes and businesses. Evacuations. Sand bagging. Bolstering levees. It's a mess.

The release at Gavins Point Dam is at an historic high of 160,000 cfs. I believe the previous high was somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000. I'm too lazy to go look it up.

The scary thing is that Gavins Point Dam has a potential to release up to 450,000 cfs. If necessary. ( And, please God, don't let that be the case.)

It's tense here. Traffic on I-29 five miles south of our town is down to two lanes with water lapping at the edge of the shoulder. This photo is looking north. (click for a close-up view)

The Missouri River at Decatur, Nebraska, continues to rise. I've become obsessive about checking the online status of the water. As you can see it's risen considerably since June 5 (first graph) to its present stage of 39.31. The highway east of the Decatur bridge (Iowa side of the river) risks being closed...water is lapping at its edges.

Two weeks ago the U.S. Corps of Engrs was saying there were no plans to release more than 150,000 cfs. We thought that would be the worst of it.

Unfortunately, heavy rains across Montana and the Dakotas forced a new level of 160,000 cfs. Of course, the Corps is saying this is the level they will maintain "barring unforeseen storms".

Did you know that Niagara Falls releases 150,000 cfs? We have more water than Niagara Falls flowing down the Missouri River...and that flow is expected to remain at this level into mid-August and who knows how long after that?

In the meantime local drainage systems will cease to function. You can't drain water into a river that has a higher elevation than the water you wish to drain. Those ditches will back up and flood more areas.

If you haven't noticed (national news is a bit slow on the uptake of this massive Missouri River event) the entire stretch of the Missouri River from Montana to Missouri is above flood stage. This is a catastrophic event for the Heartland of America...and we pray it does not get MORE catastrophic.

This thing ain't over till the fat lady sings. And I haven't a clue where to find her.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Through a Glass Darkly

In 2009 about six months after my diagnosis of cancer I found an online forum for ovarian cancer survivors. It was a God-send in terms of being a great support system. We discuss every aspect of our struggles with ovca. (One of our favorite subjects is how we deal with the ever-present battle against the constipation caused by chemo and other drugs...we have become experts in that probably don't want me to go any further with that topic. lol )

The forum is our support system and we explore and discuss many topics above and beyond treatment. Today, one of the members posed a question about dying. In essence, how is it that we who believe in Christ and heaven, struggle so hard to cling to this earthly life, enduring chemo, pain, loss, seeing death right there in front of us. How do we deal with that?

My response was that it is a natural thing of our physical bodies to cling to life. This life has been good. We want to continue living.

God intended for us to enjoy the joys of this life even while fighting the effects of the death that Adam brought into the world.

As believers in Christ, we recognize that "in Adam we die" and "in Christ we live".
1 Cor 15:22 (Amplified Bible)
"For just as [because of their union of nature] in Adam all people die, so also [by virtue of their union of nature] shall all in Christ be made alive. "

However, knowing that we live in Christ does not take away from our natural (and good) inclination to enjoy our earthly life. We have many joys here and we want to continue in the the love of family and friends, the (good) pleasures of life, the beauty of this earth. It is natural that we would have an inborn desire to continue life as we know it...although without cancer, of course.

As for our fear of death...yeah, I think of the "how" of it, and wonder at the how of it...will it be painful, etc. But I also believe when that time comes and if it is a long process, that hospice and good medical care during that time will make it as painless as possible and as peaceful as possible. But I think, too, that when we come to that state of "nearing death", that God puts it in us to be accepting of that. When our body becomes weary enough with disease or age, we won't mind laying it down for the last time.

As for the "unknownness" of what our afterlife will be like, well, we will not know fully until we get there what awaits us on the other side. Paul explained it to the Corinthians as rather like looking through a dirty window. We can see only dimly now. But then, when we arrive on the other side, we will see it all clearly and fully.

I Cor. 13:12 (Amplified Bible)
"For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]."

Sometimes I look at this life as a grand journey...that I am part of the "story" of God and man. My part is very tiny, yet it is very important, and I need and, indeed, am obligated to God to live it well. And so, I do try to live life the way that God requires of me. I fail miserably as do we all. But I keep putting one foot forward, then the other. I keep moving forward.

The Apostle Paul likens life to a race...and nobody running a race skids to a stop at the finish line and says, "Whoa! I don't want to cross the finish line." No, instead the runner's desire is always to complete the race even if he has to crawl the last distance to the finish line. We're all running a race (walking through this life) and we all will get to the finish line. It's just that it is startling to get close and think...."Wow, the race is almost over!" Even without ovarian cancer, it is startling to become "old" and be nearing the end of our lives here on earth. Our grandparents must have been just as startled as we are. And their grandparents before them.

And while I cling to this life and love this life, I also look forward to seeing what is on the other side. I will no longer be looking through a dirty window. I will know fully.

This whole thing of "life" is fascinating, don't you think?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ain't Nobody Happy About the Water Over the Dikes

It took them awhile but national news is finally mentioning the flooding Missouri River. They're a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to news in the seemed much more important to post the latest tidbit about some Congressman who got himself into big trouble with his cell phone. (Sometimes don't you wonder at the brilliant decisions made by those who are in charge of our nation?)

We're still dry although Interstate-29 has a low spot south of town that may (or may not) cause that stretch of the highway to be closed. The small drainage ditch that runs through that area is over its banks. Will the water get higher? Only time will tell.

The photo to the side is by Larry Geiger. If you're curious about the extent of the flooding you can view more of Geiger's photos here. Incredible images. This photo shows I-29 north of the Council Bluffs/Omaha area, looking north. (That area is about 55 miles south of us but this is our primary route to Omaha.)

This is a huge event in terms of area and of time. The damage already incurred is immense. But on top of what is already done, we will be sitting in suspense for two months while the dams above us continue their unprecedented high-volume release of water.

There are two serious concerns involved with all this. Firstly, the suspense consists of "will the levees hold" in areas where they protect cities, airports, highways, residences, etc.? And secondly, will two solid months of over-the-bank flood stage cause our local drainage ditches to back up after heavy rains? This last is a serious concern...for it will mean secondary flooding above and beyond what is already forecast.

At this point, ain't nobody happy with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Their judgment call to not release water until "too late" does not set well with folks all up and down the River. I repeat, ain't nobody happy about this mess we're in.

In other news (as they used to say on the nightly news) I'm doing well (so far) on a new chemo regimen. Of course, I've only been on it for one week. If my blood counts fall, it will happen by the end of next week. Today I had plenty of energy so I know my reds are still doing well. Carried some bricks from out front to the garden out back where they now make a walkway between two raised beds of vegetables. I was able to do that without undue huffing and puffing. And I was able to hoe a large area...a task that was much needed. Again without undue huffing and puffing. That's a good sign my red blood count is doing well.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bridge with the See-Thru Roadway

Late yesterday we drove seven miles west to the bridge across the Missouri River at Decatur, Nebraska.

The bridge has been a toll bridge ever since its inauguration in 1955. This day we paid $1 to go across and $1 to come back. We wanted to see the rising Missouri. And so we did. Many others were doing the same and I think the toll booth made a bundle this week from river viewers. Perhaps next week may not be so is a possibility the road on the Iowa side of the river may be closed due to water covering portions of the roadway.

Yesterday we drove down underneath the bridge. The road there leads to a few cabins and a restaurant now closed for obvious reasons. A city park sits next to that road. The walkway bridge was blocked with yellow tape. Water was seeping at the edge of the road yesterday. Today it is flooded and closed.

I found this history of the bridge at this website. I'm old enough that I can remember as a small child the talk about the bridge...the dry land bridge. Here's a history as found at the site.

  • In 1946, the Burt County Bridge Commission asked the U.S. Army Engineers to approve a bridge site at Decatur. Construction of the Decatur Bridge was authorized in 1950.
  • The village of Decatur received nationwide notoriety in the 1950s because of the famous dry land bridge that was supposed to be across the Missouri River. The original plans were to build the bridge across the Missouri River to connect Decatur to Onawa, Iowa. The river, on the other hand, had different ideas and changed its course, thus leaving the proposed bridge site about a quarter of a mile distant from the river. Plans were changed and the bridge was built on dry land with the river to be rechanneled under the bridge upon completion. The bridge was completed in 1951 but, because of the Korean War, Federal funds could not be appropriated to place the water under the bridge. The $2 million bridge soon was well known as the bridge "that went nowhere, because it lost it's river." Funds finally became available to move the Missouri River under the bridge and the first traffic crossed the bridge on December 19, 1955. The bridge was officially opened May 5, 1956 during Decatur's Centennial.

The deck (roadway) of this bridge fascinates me. It's the only bridge I've ever seen whose roadbed is constructed of grated metal. No concrete. Just a grated metal floor. The grating makes for an irritating road surface, causing tires to howl-howl-howl all the way across. And they are designed such that they pull the car this way and that necessitating a careful grip on the steering wheel to keep the car in its own narrow lane. The bridge was constructed in 1951 and is did I say it is narrow?

Barn swallows love the bridge. I was careful to not stand long underneath their nests for fear of whitewash in my eyes.

By today, Thursday, June 9, the river has risen past its flood stage of 35 feet. At 9 pm tonight the water hit 36.6 feet which is 1.6 feet above flood stage. River water is flowing onto farmlands so fast that occasionally the river gauge reads an inch or so lower than the previous hour...merely because the water upstream is flowing out of its bed instead of under the bridge.

Tuesday, June 14, the water will peak at 38.2 feet (3.2 feet above flood stage. That's five days from now. There will be much more flooding. But we are not alone. Flooding is occurring along the entire stretch from Sioux City south to Missouri...the entire western border of Iowa.

Today Interstate 29 is closed in both directions between Exit 61 to Exit 71 just north of Council Bluffs due to flooding.

Sioux City will see increased train traffic due to flooded areas in Omaha. Read more here.

Several roads in our county near the River have been flooded and closed. And some homes near the river have been evacuated. Read more here.

The Sioux City Journal reports homes evacuated on the Nebraska side at Macy.

And that doesn't include the huge number of homes evacuated at Dakota Dunes, SD, Sioux City, IA and South Sioux City, NE (and other areas).

Everyone is wondering how western Iowa will be affected these next two months. Homes are already lost. More homes will be flooded. Farmers will lose their entire crops for the year. Jobs will be lost. Rumors are rampant. The Summer of 2011 will be a bad summer in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Not to mention all the other communities north to the headwaters and south to the Mississippi.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

By Tomorrow Morning.......

It seems very strange to awaken to sunshine and all the while knowing the Missouri River seven miles west of us at Decatur, Nebraska will reach flood stage by 6am tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Sioux City, Iowa, and South Sioux City, Nebraska (opposite sides of the Missouri) are building walls and sandbagging to protect low lying areas. Check out the Sioux City Journal here.

The River has already overflowed low-lying areas along its banks. At flood stage there will be major flooding of farmlands and towns all along the approximate 100 miles between Sioux City and Omaha. And since the Corps of Engineers will be releasing record amounts of water for the next several months (into August?) flooding will not abate all summer long.

According to forecasts, our little town will NOT be under water. But as I mentioned yesterday, we will have a rising water table that will put water in our basements. In the meantime citizens are helping those around us (within mere miles) who will be inundated. Families are packing up and moving. The town of Blencoe seven miles south of us is building (has built?) a dike around the town.

A quiet, balmy sunny morning makes all of this seem unreal and false. But it's real and true. And it's not just here. It's all along the Missouri from Montana downward. This year of 2011 will be the Year of the Flood.

God is still in control. And we are not.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Five Feet High and Rising...or How Johnny Cash Got It All Wrong!

The river stage at the Missouri River seven miles west of us is currently 33.62 feet and rising. In three days time the River will be at 36.2 feet which is well past flood stage of 35 feet.

There are six Missouri River dams above us that stretch into several states.

The Oahe Dam at Pierre, South Dakota, is currently releasing a record 85,000 cubic feet of water per second. Flooding is already occurring on the bank areas in the Sioux City area north of us.

The volume will reach 150,000 cubic feet per second next week. When that flow reaches our county there will be major flooding. And since that record release will continue for the next couple months...well....the flooding will continue as well. This is not a happy scenario.

We're hoping our little town of Onawa will remain dry. According to the maps released by the Corps it should. But there will be flooding all around us. Lots of it.

An informational meeting was held this evening at the local school. To
o bad they didn't charge a dollar per person...they could have made a bundle. The gymnasium was full. The information was not conducive to happy spirits afterwards. Many farmers attending that meeting can expect their entire farms to be inundated and remain flooded for months. Residents of Blencoe south of us are already clearing their basements and packing up their belongings to evacuate.

I do not know how this summer will turn out. This next week will give us a good idea what to expect the rest of the summer months.

To use the lyrics of Johnny Cash...."How high's the water, Mamma?" Well the answer is, it's an awful lot higher than "five feet high and risin' ".