How to begin. I lived in Iowa for about 5 years. The floods of 1993 happened while I was there. That year, it had started raining in April, with a steady downfall of an inch or more each day. Over the July 4th holiday, the skies opened up. Nearly 10 inches of rain fell over three days. Since the ground was already saturated, the water had nowhere to go. Flood waters rose quickly and the entire state of Iowa was basically shut down overnight.
The people came together in novel ways to help one another. Shelters were set up for people who needed to move out of flooded homes. New travel routes were created to avoid impassable roads.
In 1998, just before I moved away from Iowa, a series of tornadoes hit. I can still remember the warning siren going off, moments before I headed to a closet for safety. Although no tornadoes touched near my home, that wasn’t true for all of Iowa City. I was able to drive over to a friend’s house. Their neighborhood was devasted by fallen trees and damaged homes. No one had power.
The people came together in novel ways to help one another. Several people brought out grills and we had an impromptu barbeque as clean up continued. Many lawns were cleared of debris and no one went home hungry that night.
Because of these events in my life, I am usually prepared for staying in place for a couple of weeks or longer. And although I never considered that a pandemic would be something to prepare for, here we are.
Our lives have drastically changed in a week. As the first cases of Covid-19 began to appear in the state, colleges and universities began shutting down and sending students home as a precaution. On Thursday, Governor Whitmer announced the closure of all K-12 schools, as another precaution. On Friday, the Bishop requested that churches suspend in-house Sunday worship services for the remainder of March. An added precaution in our places of worship. Our leaders are asking all of us to change our lifestyle, for protection.
Over the past week, I have seen more panic than preparedness. Understandably, there has not been a pandemic in our lifetime. However, we can come together in novel ways to help one another. Social isolation does not mean hibernation. We can contact one another by phone or go old school and send out cards and letters. We can take advantage of technology and participate in online chat rooms, blogs and other social media avenues for our Bible studies and prayer groups.
We can be part of those who ensure our children and elderly have enough food. Many grocery stores have a pickup or delivery system. Take advantage of them. Many restaurants have carryout or delivery options as well. Use them when you can. Pharmacies have check out windows. Most banks have a safety wall already installed. Social distancing is already a part of our lives. If you are sick, please stay home. This recommendation is not only to protect yourself. It is also to protect others around you who may already be susceptible to infectious diseases.
Most importantly. Pray. Reach out to one another by phone or the internet and lift up each other by name over the coming days and weeks. God be with each and everyone of you. And Amen.