From the book:
It was an innocuous little cloud, scarcely darker than the
other scattered grey clouds mixed with puffy white ones being
pushed lazily across the sky by a gentle southwest breeze. For
a moment it gave a respite from the merciless mid July sun for
those under it.
It paused, wept several large drops of rainnot enough
even to start steam rising from the over heated asphalt below
itthen moved on keeping pace with its cousins.
It was followed not long afterwards by a bigger brother, darker
than the first in contrast to a sky now more cloudy than bright.
It too seemed to pause, then opened its maw disgorging large
drops again, this time in greater numbers, enough to thoroughly
wet the pavement and cause rising steam to follow its passing.
The breeze freshened in its wake causing the clouds to move
faster. White clouds were pushed to the eastern horizon and began
to disappear, as did the patches of blue sky that had smiled
down between them.
Darker clouds soon covered the sky from horizon to horizon
and it began to rain, gently at first, then harder.
The farmers in this part of Iowa looked up from their chores
and smiled. They had worked through too many days of record heat,
and worriedly watched crops begin to wilt as a result. This rain
looked like it might become a good soaker - the kind of rain
that fell at just the right rate to gently sink into the parched
earth giving the corn and beans a much needed drink, stimulating
the recently cut timothy and alfalfa to put up new growth in
preparation for the late summer haying.
Tadpole Creek, little wider than a drainage ditch, its source
hundreds of acres of well-drained fields several miles north
and west of town, was, with the exception of a few, small, stagnant
pools, bone dry. It usually only ran fresh when the winter snows
melted and during the heavier spring and fall rains. No one around
could remember the last time it went over its banks, if it ever
During the night the rain lost its benevolence but none of
its steadiness. What started out falling at the rate of a half-inch
an hour was now pouring down at two inches an hour - and getting
heavier by the minute.
Dawn seemed to take a long time coming, the sky so heavily
laden with waterlogged clouds that scarcely any light could get
through. Farmers looked out of their windows, no longer smiling
as small ponds began to appear in the dips and swales of their
fields, the possible forerunners of drowned crops.
The rain continued throughout the day, now at the rate of
three inches an hour. Tadpole Creek became a freshet, burbling
merrily along, happy that it had been released from the drought.
By noon the creek was making angry sounds. Its ripples and rapids
had disappeared, replaced by an on rushing brown torrent bearing
detritus that in quieter seasons had accumulated in its bed.
As the farm families and residents of the tiny nearby hamlet
sat down to their evening meals, Tadpole Creek exited its banks
and began to spread its roiling waters into nearby low lying
And still the rain continued.
Flood was dedicated to my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters,
and the residents of New Hartford, Iowa who during one terrible
month in 2008 suffered an F 5 tornado sandwiched between two
devastating floods. The courage and resourcefulness of the people
of this small community triumphed over this disaster and the
town was rebuilt. Flood is my effort to pay tribute to those
who survived and to the memories of those who perished.