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Utility workers travel by boat past grain bins in the flooded town of Pacific Junction, Iowa, April 3, 2019. VOA

Rick Eppenbaugh thought he had seen it all. He served in the Marines and now works with troubled teens. However, nothing prepared him for the flood that invaded his life, engulfing his home and everything around it near Pacific Junction, Iowa.

“I’ve always been a pretty hardcore guy, being in the military and working with street kids. That’s what I do. (I) was kind of a street kid myself. I was a pretty tough guy, but this is hard to take, pretty hard to take.”


Many homes are unlivable in the U.S. Midwest, especially those located within a few kilometers of a stream or river. Eppenbaugh said last summer was unusually wet and a March storm, combined with fluctuating temperatures, caused the winter snow to quickly melt and overwhelm the levees, flooding roads, farmland and homes.

Evacuation by boat

Eppenbaugh was surprised the water rose so quickly.

“There was water over the road already in half an hour from when the levy breached. It covered a mile, a mile and a half, flooded all (the) fields, flooded the interstate,” Eppenbaugh said.

He, his wife and five dogs were eventually evacuated by boat, but they had to leave his wife’s two beloved horses behind.

“They were standing out front when we got in that boat and motored away. No one’s seen them alive or dead,” Eppenbaugh said.

The family is temporarily living in a home in Omaha owned by Eppenbaugh’s boss. However, the farm dogs are cooped up in the house and unused to living in the city, and Eppenbaugh is anxious to start rebuilding his house.

Water rose high

On his second trip home after the flood, he and two friends, with a borrowed rowboat, slowly made their way across what looks like a lake. The only sign that they are actually over flooded farmland are the corn stalks that occasionally poke out of the water.


Jeff Vonder, right, an employee of Omaha’s Municipal Utilities District, hands Kim O’Connor of Pacific Junction, Iowa, a jug of water he had filled from MUD’s emergency water supply tanker, in Glenwood, Iowa, April 3, 2019. VOA

He had always dreamed of owning a home in the countryside. He realized that dream six years ago when his children were grown and had their own homes. He and his wife bought a farmhouse built in 1924, just a 30 minute drive from the city of Omaha.

“I used to just sit out here at night. Stars were real bright. Dogs are running around,” Eppenbaugh said.

The water had receded enough that Eppenbaugh’s home looked like it was on an island. From the waterlines seen inside the walls of the house, the water rose to about 30 centimeters below the ceiling. Everything on his first floor had been underwater. His refrigerator was now on its side. Precious family photos were wet and ruined.

“Until you start looking, you don’t really even know what you’ve lost,” Eppenbaugh said, as he looked around to see what he could salvage.

He said he will have to replace his floors, walls and he hopes the foundation is still good.

“All the money we put in this place in the last six years is just wasted,” he said.


This aerial photo shows flooding along the Missouri River in Pacific Junction, Iowa, March 19, 2019. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says rivers breached at least a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. VOA

‘It’s so overwhelming’

Eppenbaugh calmly looked around, but did not reflect the shock he had been experiencing since the flood.

“I’ve been crying for two weeks. Trust me, it’s not that calm of a deal. It’s just … it’s so overwhelming.”

After picking up a few things, Eppenbaugh had to walk and row away, until the water receded.

ALSO READ: Midwest Farmers Dealing with Flood Water in a Planting Season

No one in the area had flood insurance. He said it’s too expensive. Eppenbaugh estimated it may take up to a year to rebuild his home piece by piece.

“It’s pretty overwhelming. You just kind of feel numb.” (VOA)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

India-England test series will now be played next year from July 1 at Edgbaston Stadium

The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.

ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.

"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.

"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.

"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."

"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.