Fragile

It’s the Friday after the Iowa derecho. What a week. After the devastation of the storm, the cleanup began. Monday night I had friends here to get the limbs on the ground and a tarp on the roof. Tuesday and Thursday they were back cutting up the trees that fell into our yard. By tonight all the trees are cut up and the limbs to the curb. All that remains is a backyard full of small branches and leaves which will be easily enough dealt with tomorrow.

The power company officially announced yesterday that power would be “substantially restored” to the county by next Tuesday. But the power company guy who was driving through our neighborhood last night informally told us to expect at least a week, maybe more. We have a tree on the line behind our house which affects at most about 6 homes. Fixing it is obviously a lower priority than fixing other downed lines that affect more people. It’s hard to argue with the logic but it’s a bummer to be at the end of the list. Thankfully we do have a generator which keeps lights, fans, and internet going.

The town is slowly reopening. The Chick-Fil-A our daughter works at reopened the drive through on Wednesday and is slowly expanding their open hours as they get staff available. Gas stations are now open enough that the lines have mostly gone away. Grocery stores are open. Schools are another story. School plans have moved from half-time attendance (thanks, COVID) to now potentially full-time virtual for the first few months of the school year. All the buildings in the district are damaged, and our girls’ high school is among the most badly damaged.

Now that the initial shock has worn off, the word that characterizes much of what I’m feeling is fragile.

The power to the house relies on a generator that needs to keep running. The fiber cable that brings internet to the house is suspended across the backyard by a few shepherd’s hooks. The roof over my daughter’s bedroom has a sizable chunk missing, with only some plywood and a tarp covering it. We have a cold front coming through tonight. The cooler temps will be welcome. The potential thunderstorms will not be.

The whole city infrastructure is fragile, so if anything else were to break or go wrong, it’s that much harder to get any help. It’s not like I need an electrician or a plumber every day, but it’s nice to know that I can generally get one if I have an emergency. This month? Not so much.

At this point in these kind of posts someone usually brings out an inspirational hashtag. I’ve seen #IowaStrong going around this week. (It’s been employed plenty of previous times, including the floods of 2008 and the floods again in 2016. I’ve seen the community rally, and I’ve had friends who’ve been great help. But I look around and see all the pain in my community, and tonight I’m having a hard time rallying. This just sucks, and will for a long time.

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