Saturday, June 21, 2008

Helping our Neighbors

Aid to Women  a local crisis pregnancy center has experienced extensive damage due to the flood.  Water rose higher than expected in our building.  All computer equipment, printing equipment, furniture, food, clothing, etc. on the first floor were covered by the flood waters.
This organization is near & dear to my heart: unfortunately they were without flood insurance, like many others in our city, b/c they were outside the 100 year flood plain.  They are in desperate need of volunteers to help clean, monetary and material donations to continue their important support services in our community.   Please visit their website for more information & help our neighbors help our city!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Marine One, the Presidential helicopter is impressive in it's own right.  (Just ask Sophia & her friends who waved delightedly at the Presidential convey hovering over Linn & Johnson County's yesterday.)  
Three matching helicopters-all in formation!  Low enough to the ground to give a birds-eye view of post-flood-destruction!  The roaring, methodical thump, was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck to creep up.   
It's not unusual to witness a dozen or so planes from my parents deck in less than an hour--coming in low--'on approach' to the Cedar Rapids airport.    Yesterday, looking out at the vast expanse of sky that's my parents view.  It wasn't what we saw that was so eerie, it was what we didn't. 

Not a plane in the sky for miles--that meant only one thing.  A no-fly zone issued in our air-space for this last-minute visit by the nation's leader.  (My dad's a pilot--what can I say? Growing up in my house you have to notice these things--why do you think live so close to the airport?!?)

This latest adventure was something Sophia couldn't stop talking about.  Thankfully it was fun for her to tell everyone she'd waved at the HE-I-COTER.  For the rest of us it was just another reminder of the work to be done in order to restore our fair-city.


From the Wall Street Journal

Cedar Rapids, population 120,000, is one of the hardest hit. Last week, the Cedar River swelled out of its banks, covering 9.2 square miles of dry land and forcing the evacuation of 3,900 homes. Most of downtown, including city hall, the police station and many businesses, was shut down. Eight bridges, including Interstate 380, were closed at least temporarily. A railroad bridge collapsed.

The city set up a perimeter manned by police and the National Guard around the most flooded areas to prevent looting and enable teams of inspectors to ensure that homes were structurally sound. Now, those barriers are being moved closer to the river, and more and more people are gaining access to their homes.

"There's no playbook for this," said Brad Novak, a detective with the Cedar Rapids police department who was manning a checkpoint Monday.

[See more]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How many adults does it take to pottytrain a little girl?

Answer: At least three, in our house and two more on deck to encourage & supervise.  
This week has been an odd one.  The Ndjeraerou's have been staying with Nana & Papa, b/c of the flooding induced water shortage (my parents are on a private well.)   To make the week even more unusual, Nana's been home from the flooded U of I for an unexpected week vacation, and daddy has been working odd hours (nights & weekends) on the emergency response team for the local power plant.     All that to say--when you have lemons-make lemonade-then drink lotz of it and commence potty training!  

It's been amazing to see my little girl get so excited about this new phase in life.  I had all sorts of tricks & treats planned that I didn't even get to b/c of our unusual circumstances.  Instead, Sophia's gotten LOTZ of encouragement & reminding from Nana & Daddy, Uncle Dana, Mommy & Papa.   It's so obvious that Sophia's a first born--she doesn't need much more motivation than making those she loves proud.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rebuilding Our Roots

Imagine my surprise the other day, when I went to welcome a friend of a friend into our home for a little get together.  The face on the other side of the door was remarkably familiar & it only took a moment to recognize a high school choir friend! Of course we've both changed our names since then and so we had no idea of the connection.   Amazingly, since high school, we've also both become artists in our own right, passionate about bringing glory to God and encouragement to His people.  

I'm thrilled that Allie & Nick have moved back to Cedar Rapids, and wanted to plug their latest appearance & album.

Nick and Allie 
together in concert this Friday June 20th 7-10pm
at Java Creek Cafe
588 Boyson Rd. NE

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Minga Grace!

On a happier note.   We're so thankful for our beautiful sister!  All these pictures are evidence of Minga's fun-loving personality & HUGE heart.  Sophia can't ask for a more adoring auntie & we're so proud of our up and coming architect! 

Friday, June 13, 2008


For our friends & family across the world thank you for your prayers. The Cedar River has crested at 31.2 feet, 12 feet is considered flood stage.  1929 the river flooded at 21 feet, that was the highest flood in recorded history.  At the moment it doesn't look like flood waters will recede until next Friday!  And more rain is expected! It's safe to say that it looks like the end of the world here!  

The devastation is horrendous and it's still coming. We've been collecting rainwater for flushing toilets but our infrastructures gone as well.  All our important buildings, police, fire, court house, schools, we've even evacuated a hospital b/c it was taking on water. 

We've fled to my parents home b/c they're on a well, (the entire city is running out of water--ironic I know) and Nate is working emergency response for the Nuclear Plant overnight. This means we'd be separated by the river if he'd gone without us.  From my parents house it's closer to their secondary emergency site (The primary back-up site went under Wednesday--more irony.) 

The Ndjerareou's & Wollschlager's are safe, our homes are safe, but the downtown is completely gone.  We've NEVER imagined anything like this.  It makes you just want to cry. Beautiful churches, businesses, theaters, banks, miles of destruction, 438 city blocks it's ALL GONE.  Almost 25% of the city is gone. $737 million dollars worth of destruction.  At the same time the city is thankful for 0 loss of life & 0 crime related incidents.  We're indebted to our rescue workers for your faithful service.

Moving Response from Local Pastor

The following was written by a dear friend of the Ndjerareou family. Erin Bird is the young adult pastor at New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids, I share his feeling of desolation & isolation from the rest of the world, and pride in my community.   Thank you Erin for your words & perspective.

"This morning the top headline feed on Google News was a New York Time's headline about the flood here in Cedar Rapids, so I clicked to see if anything had developed overnight. I was suddenly awake as I read the insulting New York Times article which almost seemed to mock the people and officials of Cedar Rapids, making it sound as if we had asked for this. Christopher Maag, the author, writes that we were cocky, thinking something like this would never happen. He even chides our forefathers for building our government buildings on an island in the river. Mr. Maag makes it appear we are like the godless people of Noah's time, laughing at the possibility of a catastrophic flood.

But what Mr. Maag barely points out is that the previous record, set twice, was 20 inches. The famous '93 flood didn't even break the 20 inch mark. How could anyone expect we'd break the record not by a couple feet, but by 12 feet? We are surpassing even a 500 year flood. How do you prepare for that? Yet Mr. Maag seems to think that we should have been ready for a 32 foot crest, and to not be ready for that huge of a flood is foolish. For Mr. Maag to paint the people of Cedar Rapids in this light under these conditions does nothing to encourage the people nor point out the resiliency and determination of this community. So let me give a more accurate picture.

Last night I was serving as a "chaplain" at the Red Cross shelter set up at Viola Gibson School. The people I talked with weren't in denial, they weren't feeling foolish, they weren't shaking their fists at God. They were taking this in stride - they weren't looking defeated. One 70-year-old man I talked with lost the home that he had grown up in since birth, and yet there were no tears. He knew that when he died someday, he wouldn't be able to take anything with him, and so his "stuff" wasn't worth worrying about. He just knew he'd have a lot of work awaiting him once he could return to the house. And he was fine with that.

Once the lights were turned out, I headed home. I had heard that they needed sandbaggers at the Edgewood well, so I planned to change clothes and head over to help. But as I was buying water at Wal-Mart, LeAnn called to let me know they no longer needed sandbaggers - so I headed home to stay. As I watched the continuing coverage on KCRG, I saw hundreds of volunteers helping sandbag around Mercy Hospital. They weren't quitting. Even as the flood waters continued to rise, shattering all predictions, the people of Cedar Rapids fought on.

This morning while calling people to recruit volunteers for today, I found out about people who were volunteering through the night yesterday. No one seemed to be thinking it was foolish to keep fighting on. No one is complaining about the water rationing. Even the civil servants of the city aren't complaining when they have to do extra work because of those who held out hope they could stay in their homes.

Perhaps Mr. Maag isn't really in Cedar Rapids. Perhaps he is merely receiving info from other sources (like this really bad article) and he's piecing it together, informing his writing with his perceived stereotype of Iowans. Because if he had spent just a little bit of time with the people I did last night and watched the efforts I saw on the news, I think his article would have a very different tone."  Erin Bird 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Water Supply at Critical Level

UPDATE: The water supply is at a critical level in Cedar Rapids and Robins. The Water Department is currently only able to produce water at 25 percent of normal operation.
Unless water demand is drastically reduced a water shortage will occur soon. While water usage has decreased today, consumption must be reduced from 16 million gallons per day to 12 million gallons per day in order to avoid shutting off water completely to areas of the city.City officials are urging residents to use water only for drinking, to use paper plates and avoid doing dishes or running a dishwasher. Residents are also being urged not to flush the toilet after each use, to use hand sanitizer rather than water to washing hands, and to avoid operating a washing machine." Cedar Rapids Gazette

For those of us in the affected area-please collect rain water in pots or buckets for non-essential use. This will help our community in this time of need.  Rainwater can be collected from gutter spouts or open-air. A bucket of rain water can flush a toilet, or be boiled for cleaning and other essential uses.    Rainwater Collection System Info

Footage from Downtown taken early this afternoon

Mother Nature Unleashes Furry On Cedar Rapids

And the rain keeps coming.

He noted that a 125-foot breach occurred in the levee early Thursday that protects the Time Check Neighborhood in northwest Cedar Rapids, a break that helped to catch some people in their homes.
Havlik said some firefighters have been working 24 and 48 hours straight.
Meanwhile, Linn County spokesman Mike Goldberg asked all residents to not travel in or near flooded areas.
Goldberg said the additional two-and-half inches of rain this morning in the Cedar River watershed is adding to the water in flooded areas, because the new water has not been able to drain into storm sewers that now are plugged to prevent river water from running back into them.Goldberg said the additional rain will make the flooding event last longer and make recovery more difficult.

Floods Wipe out Downtown Cedar Rapids

It's so strange to see your own city on MSNBC, especially with pictures like these. It's the type of thing that happens to other people in other places. It's bizarre to see boats shuttling people downtown 1st Ave (Main street Cedar Rapids) And it keeps raining! Right now it looks like the worst of the flooding won't come through till Tuesday! Experts are claiming this is a 500 year flood! It's no surprise that the director of FEMA will be visiting us soon. Right now no one knows the extent of the destruction, that will have to be determined only AFTER the water recedes. 
Ironically, my neighborhood was gearing up for a garage sale this weekend. Even if the rain hadn't kept the people away, Nate & I decided that everything we'd marked for sale will now just go toward flood relief.   It's obvious that many parts of our community have lost everything in less than a day. Thankfully a large part of the affected area include industrial facilities and businesses, not homes. The majority of homes in our area are in typical suburban sprawl far from flooded areas, ourselves included. But there are no words to describe the images we're watching, friends and neighbors who are watching their place of business become islands.   Cedar Rapids typically finds pride in the fact that our city offices are grandly perched on an island, a rare feat shared only by Paris, France, you can only imagine what's becoming to these buildings, ousting important operations. This is beyond anything our community has ever experienced.  Our prayers are with our city, our thanks to the brave souls who are providing for and protecting us at this moment.  You can be sure we will stand beside you today and in the difficult days ahead.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anyone know how to build an ark. . .

But seriously, remember all that snow?  Well now it's rain and it just keeps coming & coming. 
The Cedar River that runs through the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids is expected to crest at 117.41 in the next few days, parts of Cedar Rapids & Cedar Falls & Palo have already been evacuated. Personally, we're not in any danger, but we haven't seen anything like this around here in over 12 years.  Nate's on call, in case roads around the power plant where he works become flooded.  Please pray for our area over the next couple of days.    

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wanna feel smarter? Part I

“He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.Winston Churchill

This is one of my favorite quotes. You have to like a person who’d use this line in a sentence?  So when Dana gave me an audio copy of Churchill's, History of the English Speaking People. I didn't hesitate. (Typically, I take Dana's tips with a grain of salt--b/c we have such VASTLY different taste.) It's not unusual to hear me stomping down the stairs grumbling something like "THAT WAS A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME!!"  To which my husband responds--"Didn't like the book (or movie?)”

 "NO!"  I reply and then proceed into a tirade, wondering why I spent several hours of my life on a despondent Cold War spy who finally does something good with his life only to be shot dead on the last page?

Personally, I have enough unnecessary drama in my real life.  In my fiction, I like a happy ending, or at least something uplifting, even unique.  Dana, on the other hand, appreciates the harshness of real life, or straight fantasy (with our without a satirical twist.)

It fascinates me when life OR art intersect. Recently, I was browsing the impressive reading list of a college friend, and saw several titles by Anne Perry.  Later, when I found Anne Perry's Ashworth Hall,   I had to have it!  (Admittedly, I found it at a garage sale--it was well worth my $2.00 for the hardback) This interesting historical fiction about English & Irish relations really compliments Churchill's take on actual events (Which you shouldn't read by the way--listen to it.  Then you really get his humor.  It's SO dry-- you could go right past it before you realized he was ripping on someone. What’s history without witty commentary??

Wanna feel smarter? Part II

Hang out with my beautiful sister-in-law Deborah! New high school graduate!  Congrats Deb! We're so proud of you and LOVE seeing that gorgeous smile! And thanks for sharing your love of lit with me!

I must have been good this year b/c I've been having great reading karma.  You know when you pass on a good book and get a GREAT book back!  So I passed Ashworth Hall to Deborah, Nate's littlest sister, who just graduated from HS (CONGRATS DEB!!)  And she gave me THREE CUPS OF TEA in return.  An incredibly uplifting book about a man who builds schools for girls in Afghanistan.  My karma kept getting better b/c I'd just watched Charlie Wilson's War (WARNING: DON'T WATCH THE FIRST SCENE) Charlie Wilson has very questionable ethics-and they make their point--but that is the truth of the movie? I know not an excuse.  It does give you a historical perspective on Afghanistan (Don't worry Nate didn't watch-I'm a great censor)

All that to say I LOVE-when life, art & literature all intersect.  
P.S. No, I didn't receive any $ from in the making of this post.   But if you know how I could--please share the love! 

To Facebook or Not to Facebook. . .

That is the question? Recently, a friend of mine expressed dismay that I wasn't on Facebook. I know that it wasn't personal, just got me thinking. Can I keep up with multiple sites? Do I have anything to share on Facebook? What's the big deal? Am I missing out?
More importantly---am I not on Facebook because I have a life? Or, do I really have a life if I'm not on Facebook?

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Secret to 60 Years

"Then in 1965 I went on a weekend silent retreat at a monastery overlooking the Hudson River. We were to silence our voices, the monk leading the retreat told us, in order to hear God’s. “The Latin word for hearing,” he said, “is audire. It’s the root of our English word obedience. To obey God means to hear him.” Obey…this word I’d resisted so long? And rightly, I’m sure, if obey means the imposition of one person’s will on another. But suppose there was an older, deeper, truer meaning. Suppose “love, honor and hear” were, in fact, the best promises any bride could make to her husband.

That weekend I began to grasp how hard it is to hear—really hear! Whether it’s God’s voice we’re listening for or another human being’s, how our own fears, assumptions and expectations get in the way! For a husband and wife especially, they can drown out the voice of the actual person in front of us."


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