[Marxism] Report from the flood-hit areas of Iowa by Gloria La Riva, PSL Presidential candidate

Pat Costello pt_costello at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 18 19:27:48 MDT 2008


Report from the flood-hit areas of Iowa 
FEMA is leaving people stranded ... again 

By Gloria La Riva, John Beacham and Stefanie Fisher 

PSL presidential candidate Gloria La Riva, with PSL organizer
Stefanie Fisher, filling sandbags at the Mississippi 
River near Mediapolia, Iowa.

House belongings ruined by the flooding of Cedar River
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Today we met with Iowans in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Waterloo,
Cedar Falls and Burlington. From our conversations with flood
survivors it is clear that the federal government is not providing
the needed assistance, and is instead leaving people to their own
individual efforts, much like what happened in New Orleans and the
 Gulf Coast after the Katrina disaster. 

In Cedar Rapids, over 1,300 city blocks were wiped out by the 
Cedar River when it crested to record levels. There the waters 
rose to 31 feet, 19 feet above the flood level. In an area considered 
a “500-year flood level” we saw street after street of houses 
completely gutted by the waters. With the water receding, 
residents were piling their ruined belongings on the street. 
Everything the water touched is beyond recovery or repair. 

David Lester, auto mechanic, was with several friends at his 
workplace, H&H Auto, where they had finished emptying the inside 
of the shop. Lester, visibly angry, said: “I called FEMA and we 
are not eligible for aid because we aren’t a residence. But my 
boss who is 80 years old lives here in the shop. This is his 
home. We were told we can apply for a small-business loan, 
but how is a loan going to help us?” 

Lester’s friends came together and worked all day, hauling 
out the ruined motors, shop tools and other belongings. He 
said: “All I know is that it is people helping each other 
out. That’s all we have.” 

In Cedar Rapids, an older couple was still in shock, with 
their home still under water. The woman told us: “FEMA just 
told us we are only possibly eligible for a maximum of 
$28,500. That will cover only a small part of what we lost. 
They told us some things are luxuries, like my garage. 
I worked for 50 years, a garage and my home are not a luxury.” 

As we headed to the Missouri border, the Mississippi 
River was cresting as the waters accumulate southward. 
Hundreds of volunteers were filling sandbags at Nelson’s 
Quarry near Mediapolis. We joined for several hours in 
shoveling sand, and filling and tying bags to line the river’s banks. 

We spoke with many people about the PSL campaign’s demand 
for immediate federal grants to all those affected by the 
flood and aftermath. The response was unanimously positive. 
The people welcomed our support and solidarity. Despite the 
terrible and widespread destruction, and the obvious exhaustion 
of many, people’s spirits were undaunted. As one woman told us: 
“I just feel for others who are worse off. We’re still alive.” 


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