While most Iowans relish our time in the spotlight in the months (or years!) prior to our quadrennial political caucuses that help steer the course of national presidential politics, we’re not as fond of what’s been happening lately.
Tornadoes and floods have been the forces behind our most recent notoriety, which most of us in the heartland would gladly trade for a few dry days of peace and quiet. The news is full of people telling tales of loss. For those who have been fortunate enough to survive the recent calamities without death or serious injury to their loved ones, the anguish is focused on the irreplaceable – the photos and other items that once linked them to their past but are now gone forever.
Besides the personal loss, flooding also creates institutional loss. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for example, the Linn County Courthouse, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library and the Cedar Rapids Public Library were overrun by river water. Newspaper Archive.com, a site used heavily by genealogists, was forced to shut down.
I find it particularly interesting that these Iowa institutional losses have been reported on by a California blogger named Craig Manson, whose GeneaBlogie site has done an excellent job of framing the Iowa disasters in genealogical terms.
Of course, floods and tornadoes aren’t the only threats to our family histories. This story about a fire in Peabody, Mass., carries comments from a family historian lamenting the loss of priceless items from her family.
Sometimes nature just sneaks up on us before we can adequately prepare, but there are some steps we can take to disaster-proof our own family heirlooms and histories. You can learn more from California conservator and preservationist Scott Haskins here.
Photo of flooded Czech Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, courtesy of excaliburdj.