WOSTER: Easter brings renewal on the Missouri RiverIf Easter is a time of renewal, then my home community and its sister city across the Missouri River are deep into the season.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
If Easter is a time of renewal, then my home community and its sister city across the Missouri River are deep into the season.
Pierre and Fort Pierre, like Dakota Dunes and other communities downstream to the sharply pointed southeast corner of South Dakota, are slowly recovering from record flooding that started late in May and lasted through the summer and beyond. The signs of renewal abound. So does evidence of what a long, difficult task remains if we are to restore this place I’ve called home for more than 40 years.
The Bible says the Lord took just a weekend from death on a cross to full resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. It takes mortals much longer, but we’re working at it. Many, many people are working at it. And they’re getting help, financial and otherwise, from governments, from charitable groups, from private donations, from neighbors and from volunteers. A lot of those volunteers who have shown up since the flooding began and who have come back again and again really didn’t have to travel halfway across the country to spend their days cleaning other people’s property. They did though, and it continues to be a pretty heart-warming thing to see.
I guess if I had to tell you in just a few words why those people have come here to help strangers, I’d simply say: That’s what good people do when other people need them. If that makes it sound like those volunteers’ actions are akin to the way Christians acted in the Bible stories I heard as I grew up, well, it could be so.
You won’t catch me arguing the other side of that one. It’s been several months, that’s true, but it hasn’t been so long that the images of people pitching in to help each other prepare for the flooding aren’t still as fresh as yesterday. It hasn’t been so long that every now and then I don’t still suddenly surprise myself by getting tears in my eyes when I run across an especially sharp image from the flood or when I’m scrolling through my computer files and find something that reminds me vividly of those hectic, scary days in the first week or two of the event.
I’ll confess. I had no clue what I was doing. Not many of us had been involved in anything quite like the Missouri River flooding. It was the stuff you read about in history books, not a current event with a giant test for everyone, no grading on the curve and no room for guesses or wrong answers.
It was two or three weeks into the event before I took a day off. I remember walking through the town with Nancy on that free morning. The levees were all in place, so we couldn’t get close to the river. But we walked over to the highway bridge and out to the middle where we had a good view upstream and downstream along the shorelines of Pierre and Fort Pierre. Water was everywhere, and it was boiling through a gap in the causeway that, for all the 43 years I’ve lived in the capital city, has connected Steamboat Park in Pierre with LaFramboise Island in the middle of the river.
Every weekend we’ve been in town since then (with the exception of a couple of days that were just downright too cold to venture two or three miles from home on foot) we’ve walked the path to the river bridge and back. It took a while, but eventually the levees started coming down and we could walk along the shoreline. These days, the shrubs are green, the trees are showing leaves and there are patches of grass poking up from what still appears in many places to be a carpet of sand. I’m told that work on closing the gap in the causeway will start any day now.
We aren’t back to normal. We won’t be for quite a while yet. In some ways, we never will be what we were. But we’re here, and we’re recovering. That’s a pretty good story of renewal for this Easter.