Flood, tornados devastate Cedar Valley but not spirit as communities recover

Arlene Freudenberg/News Editor
and Monica Reida/Staff Writer
Though the floods and tornados of late last spring occurred almost three months ago, the effects linger on, and much of the impact goes far beyond the moldy walls and shattered roofs.
“The longer time passes the easier it is to forget about the damage the floods caused, and some of these people still don’t have a house. They still don’t have their basic needs met. I think if those great efforts that happened over the summer could continue, that would be great,” CFHS counselor Ryan Flaherty said.

Senior Sarah Leedom had finished the cleaning and fixing of her house, in the northern portion of North Cedar, around the time that this school year started.
“Our basement was actually filled and water spilled out onto the first floor,” Leedom said. “We had to replace everything in the basement; we lost everything. Currently, our basement is stripped bare, down to the studs. Our stairs are wooden planks.”

This is not the case with all of the residents in the North Cedar neighborhood or other areas affected by the flood. Others had houses that were damaged to the point that they were uninhabitable, while others continue to rebuild or repair. Some residents are waiting to rebuild, while others will not move be able to move back to their homes.
“I’m not (moving back), but my grandmother is allowed to stay there now that we’ve fixed the house. We have electricity and everything’s stable,” Leedom said.
Some students are probably dealing with the stress of losing their house, having more people in their house or trying to rebuild during the school year. Among the stress of losing possessions and potentially homes, there were other struggles that people had to deal with. Leedom said that it was hard to get a building inspector and told about the leers of her peers.
“While we were cleaning, I noticed a lot of youth would come driving by and just staring at our street like we were some zoo exhibition. One youth actually yelled out ‘It sucks to be you’,” Leedom said.
Those affected by the floods might deal with the physical and mental recovery by the theories of American psychologist Abraham Maslow.
Maslow created a theory of personality that is commonly known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It explains the five levels of basic needs he feels are essential to human emotions. He believed one couldn’t climb up the ladder of needs without first completing the step before it.
The five levels from bottom to top are physiological needs consisting of the most standard needs of food, water and oxygen; safety needs consisting of the need to have security; needs of belonging, affection and love; needs for esteem, including both self-esteem as well as the esteem a person receives from others; and the final step and the hardest to reach is the need for self-actualization. Maslow described self-actualization as when someone is doing what they were “born to do.”
After this past summer, some people living in the Cedar Valley area find it difficult even to complete the first two levels of the pyramid’s heirarchy because of the floods or tornados destroying their homes and many of their personal belongings.
“I think it’s relevant in the sense that people have always resonated to the hierarchy,” CFHS psychology teacher Charles Blair-Broeker said.
Blair-Broeker’s opinion rests more on the thought that people use the hierarchy as motivation.
“Adversity isn’t always a bad thing. People rise to challenges, and what the floods did was give people a chance to grow. Some people did and others didn’t,” Blair-Broeker said.
The people who undergo these natural disasters could have many different responses.
“They could have signs of depression, post-tramatic stress disorder, nightmares or flashbacks,” Blair-Broeker said.
Not everyone affected by this disaster has suffered a negative effect.
“Some people become stronger. They are resilient; they bounce back even better than before,” Blair-Broeker said.
Within the final weeks of the 2007-2008 school year, a tornado touched down in Iowa devastating the cities of New Hartford, Parkersburg and Dunkerton along with houses in the outer areas of Cedar Falls.
CFHS science teacher Susan Considine was hit by this tornado and continued to teach the final days of class. Her roof was ripped off, her garage was lost and her possessions were strewn across the countryside.
“The staff acted like my family and was willing to help me and my family. They were very supportive and aware of our needs and went above and beyond to make sure that we were taken care of,” Considine said.
While her family recovered, Considine continued her teaching plan.
“As an adult you have the coping skills to not let things interfere with your job,” Considine said.
The counseling office has responded to the natural disasters and are able to help students with fee waivers, help with paying for standardized tests or just giving the students someone to talk to.
“Students should try to let us know if there is something we haven’t thought of; utilize services available,” counselor Susan Langan said. “It’s not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up. What we have control over, we will do our part.”
As the school year continues, Langan suggests that those not affected by the disasters listen to those who were affected and to not expect those affected to be over the flooding already.
“Keep things in perspective and know that better days are ahead,” Considine said.

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