It’s 468 miles from my house to my Dad’s house in Clay City, Indiana. Weekend before last, my boys and I drove 466 miles to go visit him. We got to the Eel River just west of Clay City. We were close enough to read “Clay City” on the blue water tower in town that’s a half block from Dad’s house. But, we couldn’t go any farther. We knew about the flooding; we knew we might have to take some back roads and some different roads to get to Grandpa’s house. With the help of police, farmers and a memory of Clay County back roads, we ended up driving 42 extra miles to finally get there.
They tell me it’s the worst flooding they’ve seen since 1913. They tell me the flooding that covers parts of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana is some of the worst the Midwest has ever seen. My Dad is 79 years old, and he’s seen some flooding in his time, but even he says it’s going to take time, maybe years for the area to recover. Farmers have lost this year’s crop. Some of the finest farm land in the part of farm country I love has lost rich topsoil that can’t just be put back.
But, do you know what will happen in the Midwest? I do. The recovery is already beginning. Farmers are looking at their options. Is it too late to replant corn? Can they switch to soybeans, a crop that is planted a bit later than corn and has a shorter growing season? If they put down chemicals for corn but that kill soybeans, they can’t do that. I know these farmers, they raised me. They’re talking to their bankers or whoever they have land debt or farm operation debts with, making sure they have ways of meeting their responsibilities in an honorable way. They’ll take this hit and come through it. They’ll work harder and longer, some will raise some cattle or feeder pigs to make ends meet until they get a crop in the bin. The new combine or new tractor that was planned may wait a year or so.
These are the people who you see in news video filling and carrying sand bags. These are the people who won’t blame others for this hardship or expect someone else to bail them out of difficult times. There have been no reports of looting or stealing or finger-pointing. When the waters recede, the news coverage will go away too. They’ll be no stories to attract the media, it will be a story that’s been repeated time after time, and it will be a story of perseverance and hard work and personal responsibility.
I left the farm 37 years ago, but in this ever-changing world there are still some things, a few things that don’t change much. Should you care about what happens to some farmer in Iowa or Illinois or Clay City, Indiana? The answer is yes, you should. The corn and soybeans and wheat they’re trying to raise makes a living for them and helps feed you and yours.
See you tonight at 4:30, 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.