God Bless Mississippi

By:Dennis Bates

The rain has finally stopped here in Iowa, and I would ask you all to remember to pray for those who have been forced to evacuate from their homes because of the flooding. I have never experienced or read about anything like this here before, It has affected many different areas never touched by flooding before.

Some 90 blocks of Cedar Rapids are underwater, and I don’t ever remember a flood there at all, let alone one of this magnitude. People are homeless with no place to go, and that has never happened there before. Many other communities have been forced to evacuate as well, and water systems have been shut down in several small towns because their treatment plants have been contaminated.

Interstate 80, the main east-west road across the state has been closed in several places because it is underwater. To my knowledge, that has never happened either, except briefly and usually because of a heavy snow. When it has been closed in the past it has been for hours, not days like it has been now.

People who go to our church spent ten hours over the weekend trying to get the 48 miles from here to Iowa City where the University of Iowa is partially flooded and at least one dorm has been evacuated. They gave up. No back road or secondary road was passable.

Iowans are a resilient lot, and we will survive with vigor and come back stronger, but right now homeless is still homeless, and attempts are being made to help everyone that needs it. That’s where one of the truly wonderful bright spots has surfaced in this mess.

Ironically, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Iowans were some of the first people to offer help, especially in Mississippi, where cameras and widely publicized telethons lost interest quickly choosing to focus on New Orleans instead. I won’t be cynical about that, but it happened and that’s all there is to it. People from Cedar Rapids were some of the first to send aid to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Bands of volunteers followed to help the homeless there anyway they could. Groups from my area slightly east of Cedar Rapids followed the example and quietly and with little fanfare, Iowans helped people rebuild in Mississippi.

Most of the media forgot to notice this and few stories resulted, but the people from Mississippi didn’t forget. They responded in kind, again with little fanfare and even less publicity although one or two national news stories have now surfaced. Mississippi is returning the kindness of the strangers from Iowa, and several towns that are still recovering and still rebuilding themselves have sent water and other supplies to the ravaged areas here. It is hard for me not to get teary eyed about that.

That, my friends, is true brotherly love, true sacrifice and beautiful to behold. I will never again think of the noble state of Mississippi the same way, and I will never forget what people have done to help. I’m fine where I am, and I’m just a little ashamed that I haven’t offered more help from 50 miles away, even though I have no idea how I would get it there. But people from Mississippi should hold heir heads proudly. They made a difference, even if it was only to cheer people up. They remembered and they acted.

So God bless you, Mississippi, and thank you. You are beautiful people! I love you all!

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