(Finally! Back online and wired — or “wireless-ed” this case — to the outside world. Hubby & I have been out of town since Friday and haven’t had any internet or email access all weekend. Can’t believe how much I miss having no connection to anything! Okay, so maybe it was a blessing after last month’s Nablopomo … )

This weekend Hubby & I spent some time in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hubby is part of the local Advertising Club in the city where he works. Every year, this Ad Club partakes in the Addy’s which is sort of the Oscar’s for Advertising. Any regional Ad Club can hold their own Addy’s, which the winners of each local club goes on to districts and then nationals. But each level has their own sets of judging.

So why were we in Cedar Rapids? Well, because Hubby was asked to judge that local chapter’s entries. And because this was sort of “last minute,” the flights out there were a bit too expensive. So instead, he decided to drive. And well, because it’s a nice 7-plus hour drive from where we live, I hated knowing that he’d be driving that long distance by himself. Which is why I tagged along.

Wintery Freeway Shot on way to Cedar Rapids

Wintery Freeway Shot on way to Cedar Rapids

While he and two others spent the whole day on Saturday judging, I spent most of the morning and half the afternoon in the hotel room. Except, as I mentioned above, we weren’t able to get any internet access. Instead, I flipped through the limited amount of channels on the telly and watched random things. Like a History Channel episode on the Classic Seven Wonders of the World. And High School Musical 1 and 2. And multiple episodes of Han.nah Mon.tana. You could say I was just a little bored.

Mid-afternoon, I finally decided to drag my butt out of my jammies and showered. Afterwards, I decided I’d do the half-hour drive down to Iowa City and surrounding Coralville just to check it out. Iowa City was a pretty college town. Lots of students milling about and lots of shops down the little center area. But it was too frickin’ cold for me to go walking out there by my lonesome. (Heck … it was bad enough that I had to fill the car with gas in that 20-some degree temperature; which doesn’t even include the wind-chill factor!) So then I decided to head to Coralville where I saw a Bar.nes & Nob.les off the freeway. And really, I went there strictly so I could pick up Book Three in the Twi.light series.

I mean after all, I finished the 2nd book earlier that morning while mindlessly flipping through the TV.

Ugh. I can’t say that this trip was majorly exciting. However, knowing that in June of this year Cedar Rapids was completely devastated from major flooding … well, it kinda puts things into major perspective. Especially after watching some of the TV spots that were up for judging for Addy Awards. When talking with some of Hubby’s peers (the ones that sponsored his stay) during dinner one night, I asked the obvious question; which was how bad did it affect the city?

To put it mildly, it devastated Cedar Rapids. When we drove through the streets of the downtown area, our host would point out exactly how high the water levels were. One particular building, you could tell it reached about a story and a half high. Even the server at the restaurant talked about how the entire room we were in was completely submerged under water. There was one instance, we were told, that residents saw some CNN newscasters out on boats, fishing in the middle of the “street.” Because there was, indeed, fish swimming in the streets.

And as we drove along, you couldn’t help but notice how many storefronts were closed. How the actual restaurant our host wanted to take us to never reopened after the flooding. How there were still houses close to the river that appeared to be abandoned with no hope of ever being rebuilt. And there were other stories of house boats that were found piled up at one end of a road. While another pile, this one of derailed boxcars from trains, were stacked up at the other end.

The stat we Hubby & I read was that one in four businesses never reopened after a major disaster. Of all things, we read that bit of info on a billboard. On the freeway. In the southwestern-most end of Michigan. On the way to Iowa. (How weird is that?)

To see that reality of those numbers in front of our face five months after the flooding was, to put it mildly, was tragic. To know that, indeed, many of these stores would never reopen in the city’s downtown business district was heartbreaking. And to know that it would take years to rebuild what was destroyed was just plain sad.

Sun setting in the college town of Iowa City

Sun setting in the college town of Iowa City

Those TV spots that Hubby was given to “judge” told the story of what happened during the floodings. The video shots alone were reminiscent of the same video real I remember seeing after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And to know that the Iowa floodings happened not so far away from my home … it was certainly eye-opening. And the sheer enormity of this disaster made me realize that natural disasters can happen anywhere. Floods in the midwest. Hurricanes on the East and Gulf coasts. Earthquakes on the west coast (and even other midwest area places you’d never think of). Tornadoes in the heartland. Either way, I think this has made me realize that all of us could be one step away from catastrophe.

So while I was utterly frustrated by the lack of good TV programming or access to the internet … I feel like I can’t really complain about it. Because truthfully … rebuilding this city and its community is much much more important than making sure I’m up to date with all the latest news.

I pray that the community of Cedar Rapids continues to plow forward and rebuild.