We can clean up the messes left behind by the ferocious floodwaters of 2008, but how much cleaning will it take for our neighborhoods, our businesses — our selves — to be whole again? The devastation has wreaked havoc on thousands of residents’ hopes and dreams, irrevocably changing even the lives of many who were barely affected by the flood itself. There are more questions than answers:

— Now that the water is gone, police reports show burglaries and looting is on the rise in flooded areas. In the last two days, more than 10 burglaries were reported in affected areas of southeast and southwest Cedar Rapids, including at the Cigarette Outlet on First Avenue W and City Style Clothing downtown. Guess some peoples’ “Midwest spirit” is failing. What gives?

— Where are all of these displaced families going to live now? Some might want to move back into their homes eventually, but if the house needs to be demolished, who will build there again? Would they want to? And how much will rental rates increase for area homes and apartments to accomodate the crowds of displaced people looking for temporary housing? Will it eventually affect EVERYONE’S rent?

— Our downtown is completely decimated. Who will rebuild there? Who will move elsewhere, or not reopen at all? Where, oh where, will I get my yummy chicken shawarmas or pizza slices or coffee house sandwiches as conveniently as I did before? (That was halfway serious. I’m still dealing with using a Port-a-Potty most of the time, so, please, cut me some slack.)

— With the destruction of about 20 percent of Iowa’s corn crop this year, how will it affect the prices of the food we eat? Corn is in just about EVERYTHING, by the way. And will restricted rail travel in this area raise transportation costs, translating directly to increased cost to us? Will the prices ever go down?

Is there such a thing as “normal” here any more? Really? We are facing months of uncertainty. Here’s to wishing us all strength, wisdom and persistence in the rough times ahead.

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