While I’m away, tornados and floods hit close to home

Out here I still have to worry

About my friends on the River Missouri

     In the spring flowers bud

     But the rivers run flood

And they might have to leave in a hurry.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to dance back from the verge of burnout, I’m having adventures and working in out-of-the-way places.  Right now I’m living in Amberley, and working the last half of a four-week assignment in Waikari, less than an hour from quake-stricken Christchurch, in New Zealand’s South Island. 

When I left Sioux City a year ago (to the day) and flew to Barrow on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, I lost my concerns about the Practice Formerly Known As Mine.  I took a vacation from my worries. 

People on the North Slope might know about world events, but hold more interest in the whale harvest, Nalukaataaq, and the Fourth of July Parade.  Barrow ceased being the middle of nowhere and became, in my mind, the center of the universe.

I have never been able to control world events, and during my travels I started to take more interest in the happenings on the ground around me. 

The big September temblor in Christchurch made headlines last year at a time when I didn’t have New Zealand firmly on my radar, and I noted it only in passing.  I heard about the big quake in February, when I returned to Barrow, and took a ribbing from the hospital staff about my goals.  At the time, I didn’t know Christchurch’s status as the largest city on the South Island, nor did I appreciate the difference between the two islands.

American news interests me less now that I’m in New Zealand, and I’ve taken a growing interest in Kiwi doings, following, for example, the schism in the Maori Party that formed the Mana Party and the ongoing problem with the Christchurch rebuild.

I still take an eight-hour break from worrying every night (except call) because my cell phone doesn’t work reliably. 

Not that I’ve ever been able to solve world problems but when I measure my distance from hotspots in thousands of miles, I give them less energy.

Some American news can’t be ignored; the Joplin tornado story rated front page status here.  That twister struck literally too close to home.  I shake my head and I think about the Midwest.  Tornado season hasn’t come close to peaking yet.   This summer could set some terrible records.

Today I heard about rising waters on the Missouri River, threatening an upscale town close to my house.  I have good friends living there who, under orders from the governor, have moved out their personal belongings and sandbagged their homes, staying alert for an evacuation order. 

Via the Internet we have offered our Midwest home to those who need it.   There’s a big difference between problems you can do something about and problems you can’t.


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One Response to “While I’m away, tornados and floods hit close to home”

  1. David Sterling Says:

    Steve – The morning paper says that Dakota Dunes residents are moving out their furniture and belongings. Some are taking furniture to the second floor. Missouri River is still 3-4 feet below river crest and water is seeping into the lowlands. There is so much water in the upper Missouri that the Corp of Engineers has had to release the water. I drove south to Sam’s Club yesterday and some of the low land on the Nebraska side was under water.


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