Fighting Flood Waters

June 07, 2011 | 10:06 am

One of my oldest, dearest, childhood friends, Tina, married a farmer and is living the farm life in western Iowa. During our youth, she spent many hours on our farm. Tina thrived on fresh air and the nature that one can experience being in the country. She still embraces these things as she is a naturalist at a state park and a farmer.

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever know that water would cause a catastrophe in Tina’s life. Their farm sits along the Missouri river and the waters are rising; flooding their farm land and threatening to take their home. Can you imagine watching your hard work and future slowly disappear, inch by inch? The land had been cultivated, planted, and fertilized. Time and money already invested in a crop that would be sold and processed for our consumption- now all of that is sitting under the flowing water of the Missouri river.

Currently 700 plus acres of their farm land is flooded and the Army Corps of Engineers predicts that there will be eight to ten feet of water where their home sits. As they watch the water rise, urgency in evacuation occurs. Neighbors, friends and family assist to empty their home, transport grain, and machinery to another site far away from the rising water. They are “hoping for the best, prepping for the worst.”

Farmers cultivate the land, apply the best science to produce a crop that will feed, clothe or provide energy. Most likely Tina and her husband, Corey, will not have a harvest this year. It will take weeks, if not months, for the water to drain. Waterlogged soils will not have the oxygen a new crop needs until it is completely dried out. The river will carry and deposit debris all across the land. It will take months of long laborious days to clean and prepare for next year’s crop.

I feel Corey’s exhaustion through this photo – the weight of losing money and time through a disaster he cannot stop from happening. Tina had this to say about her husband, “I’ve been so impressed by Corey and his ability to problem solve vs. those who are tossing hands in the air saying “it’s too big to fight.” He is spearheading a team within our drainage district to fight the flood, looking at levees/dams that might be private and the Corps report doesn’t take into account. He’s got a farmer and former Corps employee leading the way beside him….after a VERY long day yesterday they think they have a plan to save the towns of Modale and Mondamin north of Missouri Valley. Let’s hope they are right.”

As gardeners we will probably never experience flooding to this magnitude. However, we will receive heavy rains on our garden. When heavy rains occur over a short period of time, the soil becomes saturated with water. The excess water pushes oxygen out of the soil. Every cell in the plant needs oxygen to survive; without it the plant cannot take up the nutrients it needs to maintain its health and green color. When the heavy rains come to your garden, replanting may be necessary if the water sits too long and suffocates your plants.

As devastating as this flood will be to Tina and Corey and other farmers along the river, we will still have food to eat, clothes to purchase, and fuel to move us. Thankfully there are hard working farmers who, despite uncontrollable weather, will continue to labor in agriculture without disruption in our life and in our conveniences.