“You have about a foot of water in your basement. What do you want me to try and save?”
My fiancé, Dan, received the call from my soon-to-be brother-in-law Ben around 10:30 the night of June 30. About 10 inches of rain fell on the greater Des Moines area in roughly an hour. Ben was standing in our basement almost knee deep in water, and it was still coming in. We were up in Northwest Iowa staying with my parents for the weekend celebrating my cousin’s wedding.
There was nothing we could do.
I could tell by the look on Dan’s face that something had happened, and I leaned in to listen as Ben explained that he and Rachel, Dan’s sister, had a few inches of water in their basement. He knew we were out of town and rushed over to Dan’s house. We received other text messages and calls from friends making sure that we were safe and checked in with others we hadn’t heard from.
Dan’s mother, Lori, had also made the trip out to the house that night, telling us later that they had blocked our road because the water was so deep that cars were getting stranded on our street. The next morning, she arrived early to set up fans and make sure our dehumidifier was still working and running. The water had receded as quickly as it had arrived.
The next day, he and I made the three-hour trek back to Des Moines with extra fans and a spare sump pump from my parents in case ours hadn’t made it through the flood. The whole drive home, we wondered how this could have happened. Dan said he hardly had any water in the basement before — a little coming up from the floor once and that’s it.
A musty smell hit me in the face the moment I opened the door, and I feared the worst. We grabbed the extra fans and descended into the basement after cranking the air-conditioning up high, thankful that it turned on again after being underwater for several hours. We also checked and saw that the pilot light was out on the water heater, thankful that whoever installed it chose one with an automatic gas shut off.
Once we did a triage of Dan’s basement and realized there was nothing we could do until the last of the water dried out, we drove to Ben and Rachel’s house to help them remove the wet carpet from their basement.
On the short trip, we saw many houses with appliances, books, televisions, and boxes upon boxes stacked on curbs.
We watched the news later and saw that a man was swept away not far from us in the flooding after his car became stranded and he stepped out looking for help. A townhome exploded, but no one was inside since it had been evacuated earlier that night.
It then hit me how we were some of the lucky ones. I am marrying into an amazing family that will drop everything to help you. I have parents who unfailingly support me in whatever I am going through. Neighbors and friends that watch out for each other. We are financially settled enough that while this will be a small setback, we will be okay. We are both safe and together.
There are many others that do not have a support system like we do. The local shelter is asking for donations as many homeless camps were washed away in the flooding. Flood clean-up buckets are an important way you can help someone recover. Please pray, donate, or volunteer in your community to help others get back on their feet.
As I sit in my living room working, a room that has now become a storage area for the things that survived the flood, I look at the Bible verse hanging on my wall: With God, all things are possible, Matthew 19:26.
God is good, and we will make it through this.
Courtney Glienke is the Staff Writer and Social Media Coordinator for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.