Iowa, Flooding and the Global Food Crisis

Early in the morning of June 11, after months of heavy precipitation, the Cedar River poured into the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The water quickly swallowed the city.

  • 1,300 city blocks disappeared.
  • 24,000 people were evacuated.
  • 83 of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared disaster areas.
  • Nearly every river in Iowa flooded that week.


As I watched the floodwaters rise, my 4-year-old turned to me and said, “Mama, I think we need to get on the ark!” Had there been an ark in the vicinity, I may very well have gotten on it.

In the end, we Iowans are going to be just fine. The prayers of the nation have been with us, and we thank everyone for that. Help has arrived from all corners — from churches to government agencies. So many people have mobilized to get us back on our feet. We know it will be a slow process but, as a community whose roots are in farming, we have learned to be patient — patient with the growth of our crops, patient with the regrowth of our city.

But the impact of the floods on the world community is yet to come.

Iowa is the number one producer of corn and soybeans in the United States. It is estimated that 1.3 million acres of corn and 2 million acres of soybeans — roughly 16 percent of our grain crops were destroyed. (1) And this disaster is just one of many that decimated global crops in 2008.

So how does this impact the global food supply? In a nutshell, it means higher prices and a shrinking supply of food.

For countries in the developing world, this is a cataclysmic combination. In regions where people are already spending 80 percent of their salaries on food, the prices are going to get higher.

If 100 percent of a family’s income goes toward food, how then do they afford clothing, shelter, medical care and an education for their children?

And when the price of food eclipses what a family is able to earn, who in the family goes without? Parents, grandparents, children? How does one make such a decision?

As Thornton Wilder, the author of Our Town, once said: “I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for….”

We must stand together in the fight against poverty and hunger.

If you have a heart for flood victims, consider sponsoring a child in Haiti, Mexico, Bangladesh or India. These are countries that experience regular flooding, often with much loss of life, and an infrastructure that makes it difficult for families to recover.

You may also consider a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund. In the event of a natural disaster, Compassion provides food, blankets, shelter and replacement belongings to children and their families.

Please do what you can.

(1) Iowa State Farm Bureau

17 Comments |Add a comment

  1. aporna August 3, 2010

    Every Day I will pray for compassion child…God provide every needs of compassion ………..

  2. Jennifer Barnett September 4, 2008

    It was nice to see how you tied the flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to poverty and hunger on a larger scale. Poverty and hunger are huge issues even in a county as “prosperous” as ours. Even without natural disasters many Americans (and others worldwide) are affected by hunger on a daily basis. These issues must be brought up and talked about in order to open our eyes and find solutions. Nice article Lisa.

  3. Lisa Miles July 25, 2008

    p.s. “The best things in life aren’t things.” ~ Art Buchwald

  4. Lisa Miles July 25, 2008

    Vicki, that is awesome.

    I agree — you reach a point in life where you don’t need more “stuff” for a birthday or for Christmas.

    I think everyone should check out the Compassion funds and put one on your birthday list this year!!! Let your loved ones know… :)

  5. Vicki Small July 24, 2008

    P.S. This year, I’ll ask her to choose the Global Food Crisis Fund.

  6. Vicki Small July 24, 2008

    For several years, and initially at my request, my mom has sent whatever she could to Compassion as my birthday and Christmas gifts. I love her for that!

  7. Lisa Miles July 24, 2008

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Lisa S. — thank you for your donation to the Disaster Relief Fund!! I know that Compassion will put it to excellent use and it WILL make a difference for a family.

    Vicki — Wow, that is a harrowing experience — to think a home was literally on the brink of being toppled into a river with one wrong move. Scary. That paints quite a picture of the devastation wrought by flooding.

    Amy — I LOVE your idea of making a donation as a gift for someone. We did something similar at my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers.) To thank our mentor mom, we gave a donation to the Child Survival Program in her name and presented it to her with a card. It was very meaningful because she has a real heart for babies. :)

    Here’s the list of funds if others want to do something similar:

  8. Amy July 24, 2008

    Awesome post. Disaster Relief Fund donations make really good gifts, especially for co-workers.

  9. Lisa Y July 24, 2008

    Who gets to eat and who doesn’t isn’t even in our thought processes. My kids just want to know if they are going to like it! You really put things in perspective.

  10. ChrisinNY July 24, 2008

    Informative post, with a call to action for those of those that are more fortunate. Good job!

  11. Compassion dave July 24, 2008

    “Rejoice always”… 1 Thessalonians 5:16

    Oh not in disaster, heaven forbid, but that our Lord is in control and regardless of the believers worldly state, we are saved.

    It is for that very reason we must endeavor to spread THIS Good News in an Acts 1:8 kinda way.

  12. Douglas July 24, 2008

    Even with our country’s immense resources, technology, and advance warning systems, we can not altogether prepare for or eliminate the loss of life, agriculture, and property in disasters such as the Midwest floods. The clean-up process can be an unbelievably overwhelming, long, arduous process, with a ripple-effect that extends far and wide. I shudder to think how an impoverished nation could ever hope to adequately prepare for or recover from similar events. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the website.

  13. Livi July 24, 2008

    I found this article very interesting and well written.
    You definately raise some crucial points, that I’m sure many wouldn’t even consider, good work for putting this out there.

  14. JuliAnne Pardon Diesch July 23, 2008

    As a Michigander who regularly considers what the cost of fuel is doing to the price of the foods we eat, I was struck by your reminder in this article about the costs worldwide of food. Corn and soybeans are important as food sources AND as components in alternative fuel sources, so the impact of devastation to these crops is even greater.

    Thank you for bringing a reminder to me of the situation AND of action my family can take to aid those in need, both here and abroad.

  15. Deb Allison-Aasby July 23, 2008

    Excellent insight to a very important matter! The picture you posted says a thousand words. Keep up the great work and our prayers are with all the flood victims in the US and abroad.

  16. Lisa Sennholz July 23, 2008

    What an informative and well written post! I appreciate the fact you were able to tie the Iowa flooding to hunger, poverty, and flooding world wide. Thank you for reminding us that when disaster strikes, we are able to contribute to the cause by donating what we can to help these families in need. My family will be giving to the “Disaster Relief Fund” and praying that our gift makes a difference.

  17. Vicki Small July 23, 2008

    Great post, Lisa; very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

    Maybe there’s no comparison with the countries you mentioned, but the Dominican Republic–which takes up about 2/3 of the island it shares with Haiti–also experiences considerable flooding.

    Mostly, we would think about the southern shores, when hurricanes hit the island. But I have been in homes and towns in the northern part of the island where flooding is not uncommon.

    In one small home, only a very few of our group could enter at a time, so as not to push others toward the back, lest they tip the structure over the edge of the riverbank. That and other homes are flooded frequently–so frequently, that treasured items (including every letter from a sponsor!) are often kept up high.

    As I said, there may be no comparison with the areas that experience torrential floods and tsunamis. But it contributes to making life more difficult for people already in poverty, wherever flooding occurs.

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