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I stopped at a coffee shop five minutes from my apartment, unsure whether I would be able to make it past the last hill before home. At this point in the evening on Aug. 20, 2018, many roads around me were completely under water and had been blocked off. And the torrential, near-record rainfall that would last two days showed no signs of stopping.
I decided to jump back in my car. I finished the white-knuckle drive, but not without going through standing water in areas I was probably lucky to have gotten past.
The next morning, I saw pictures of an underground parking garage in a Middleton apartment building just minutes from my own that was flooded to the top of its garage door. I saw half-submerged and abandoned vehicles on the roads I drive on a daily basis.
I was compelled that weekend to buy rubber boots and work gloves and head to Monona to help with sandbagging efforts. I shoveled heavy sand into white woven sacks until blisters formed on my hands. I joined volunteers putting sandbags in the backyards of residents living on the banks of Lake Monona.
I won’t forget the awful smell of raw sewage and the muck that nearly sucked the boots off my feet as I positioned sandbag after sandbag, or the frightful looks on the homeowners’ faces of what was to become of their homes.
All across the city, volunteers are showing up to help fill, tie, load and unload sandbags. They’ve been building, reinforcing and moving walls for hours on end in shin-deep muck. Some have been going from morning to night for 4-5 days straight. And more help is needed. If you can, spare an hour or two. If you can’t find a spot that you can just jump in with a group, go to cityofmadison.com/live-work/extreme-weather/flooding/volunteer-sandbag to be notified when and where you can help. We can only get through this together. 💪🏻
I volunteered hours of my time, but it still didn’t feel like that was enough.
And I was right. It’s not enough. Responding to the increasing number of extreme weather events that the Madison area is experiencing is not helping solve the current climate crisis we find ourselves in. It’s just a bandage on a gaping wound.
With words and pictures, this month’s cover story illustrates Dane County’s changing climate and the effects it has on the things we love about where we live, principally our lakes.
In that effort, I join the millions of people who are begging, screaming and fighting for change. Unlike the Trump administration’s recent move toward pulling U.S. participation from the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change, this story demonstrates a need for full participation on global warming mitigation on every level.
Our future, our way of life, our land and our existence depend on it.
She is also the founder of Wisconsin Mujer, a diversity-focused consulting agency, and host of...Read More »