Almost a year later, Cedar Rapids is still facing a difficult reality: many homes will never be rebuilt, businesses will never return. Many of the houses near our home are still empty and crumbling, a dark flood line wrapping around them like a black ribbon, staining the siding right above the first-floor windows. I spoke to one woman who lost her home, and when the financial and personal loss became too much to bear, her husband left her with three children and no place to go.
Today, I have a new job and my husband has survived the two rounds of layoffs at his company. Recently, as we watched a local news story about feral cats living in flooded homes and more problems with FEMA trailers, and I teared up, again. This time, my husband took my hand and said, "I wish I could have done more to help." I knew exactly what he meant. I squeezed his hand, "I wish I could have done more, too."
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In the face of the overwhelming loss, our efforts don't feel like much, but volunteering with my husband, knee deep in river muck and sewage, has shown me a deeply compassionate side of him I'd never seen before. Once, as we were helping a tent business clean out their warehouse, the owner told us we didn't have to go into the murky interior. We could, he said, stay outside and rinse tents. My husband pulled up his boots, snapped on a mask, and went in. I think I even saw him roll his eyes, just a little. A year later, I know that even though our losses cause me to cry and him to be callous, we'll get through it. In the end we'll be together, doing what we can to rebuild. Our favorite restaurant even reopened recently, and we've had several date nights. Read: 4 Obama-Inspired Date Ideas