What do we Know and How do we Know it?

by Deana Chadwell3/19/19
As I sit here writing, a terrible thing is happening. It started mid-week, but there’s nothing being reported on the national news.  No TV cameras or on-the-street interviews. I saw blurbs on Drudge and Breitbart this morning (Sunday), but no big fuss.  As of this moment 54 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have been declared disaster areas.  Seventeen rivers have set flood records and some six million people are affected. Offutt Air Force Base – just outside of Omaha looks more like an inland sea – thirty buildings are closed due to the flooding. South Dakota and Iowa have been affected as well.

This was a hard winter and much snow accumulated and ice formed on all the rivers. Then suddenly the weather turned and most of that H2O turned liquid. What didn’t melt floated high-speed in chunks the size of cars, ripping out grain elevators and barns, tearing into houses and businesses. I saw one picture of a kitchen filled to the tops of the counters with dirt-laden ice.

At the same time heavy rain began to fall. So far hundreds people have had to be evacuated from 29 small farming communities that are now more islands than they are towns. No one knows how many animals have been frozen or drowned. This isn’t warm water – it’s just one step down from ice and there’s a wild wind blowing. One picture I saw showed a cluster of maybe 30 cattle huddled together hopelessly on a tiny hillock in the middle of what looked like a vast, edgeless lake, but was really the Platte River far over its banks. One helicopter pilot said there were many more such tiny bovine islands across the landscape.

Freemont, Nebraska, is completely cut off – no roads are left. The highways aren’t just covered in feet of water, they’re torn completely out or so littered with ice boulders as to be impassable. Dikes have been breached and many bridges torn out by the rampaging ice.  And this is Nebraska – winter isn’t over.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the bomb cyclone blizzard that hit Denver also hit the western half of Nebraska, dumping feet of snow. On Thursday I-80 from Grand Island, Nebraska to Wyoming was closed. Seventy mile per hour winds were blowing semis over onto their sides. The western half of Nebraska is cattle country, wheat country.  It is sparsely populated by ranchers whose spreads may cover thousands of acres and may well own thousands of head of cattle out on those lonely sand hills. How do you go about protecting your herds in that kind of a storm? You don’t; they just freeze.

This disaster hits me personally because Nebraska is my home state, and even though I haven’t lived there for over 40 years, the prairie is still in my blood, and seeing my grandparent’s little Garrison-Keillor town covered in 4 feet of water breaks my heart. Hearing that my home city of Lincoln is worried about its water supply – a town of 250,000 souls – scares me. I have people there.

But what has bothered me the most is the realization that the news tells us so little of what is happening in the world.  The TV news rattles on and on 24-7 and not a single story about the heart of this country and the suffering and struggle of our fellow Americans. Not until the story was three days old does it even make honorable mention. Two people are dead so far – one because he was trying to rescue another victim. There must be, if I know my fellow Nebraskans, many stories of heroism and heartbreak, but if my cousin and her kids hadn’t been filling Facebook with pictures, I wouldn’t know yet that anything was happening.

This last week, on the other side of the world, 32 Nigerian Christians were brutally murdered by jihadists. Some missionary sources say the number is closer to 200. Has that been on the news? No. We heard all about the mosque attack in Christchurch, but not a word about Nigeria.  In the last few years 6,000 Nigerian Christians have been murdered – burned in their own churches, beheaded, mutilated. But no major news stories. Silence.

What else is happening that we don’t know about? How are our opinions and decisions being shaped by what we don’t hear? I understand that it is expensive to send reporters around looking for stories when all you have to do to get viewers is tell yet another tale about what nonsense the latest left-wing nutcase has spouted.  And true, that’s frightening enough, but how are we to form reasonable opinions if we don’t know the half of it? And add to that the demonstrable fact that most of these news organizations will knowingly lie to fit whatever narrative is the going thing.

I suppose these floods, the worst the state has seen in a half a century, will make the news as soon as the MSM can come up with a way to blame Trump or global warming.  In the meantime, as bad and questionable as it is, social media is all we have to go on, and we know that is being manipulated.

So we must keep our eyes peeled, search for truth far and wide and stay in contact with people we love. And pray please – for Nebraskans – they’re tough, resilient people, but this is pushing anyone’s limits – and for Nigerians, whose lives must be terrifying, and for all those folks who need help and about whom we know nothing.

Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. She is also an adjunct professor at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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14 Responses to What do we Know and How do we Know it?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I heard about the Nebraska floods, though not just how bad they are. Of course they’ll be blamed on global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption. They don’t need a scientific explanation for it; they’ll just cite this as one of the consequences.

    As for the Nigerian atrocities, I heard about that, too — but only because someone who had heard of it somewhere else mentioned it in blog posts about Christchurch. I noted that Muslims mass murdering Christians is “dog bites man” whereas a Christian mass murdering Muslims is “man bites dog”, and journalists prefer to report the latter. This is especially true when they’re on the side of the dog.

    This is, incidentally, why even honest news sources are unreliable in giving an accurate picture of the world. Thousand of Boeing 737s flying safely is not news; 2 of them crashing in a period of half a year is. And likewise with religious strife.

  2. Steve Lancaaster says:

    News sources are biased, don’t forget the old adage, “if it bleeds it leads”. Of course in our PC age tragedy in our Midwest or the murder of Christians and Jews by moslems is not news worthy. At the rate it’s going all Christian communities in the most volatile parts of the Mid East will be gone, just like the Jewish communities in those same countries.

    With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 Jewish communities from Morocco to Iran were expelled, 850,000 men women and children, many with roots in those countries 1000s of years old. Millions of dollars were spent to get these refugees to Israel and Israel accepted every one of them. Where were the Moslem states accepting refugees from the Arab Israeli War of 1948? Where is the news reporting of these people?

    Where is the news reporting of the missionaries murdered? Where is the news reporting of Israeli Doctors and nurses rushing to disaster areas across the globe? Remember the Haiti earthquake? The first on the scene were Matings from Gitmo and the second, just hours latter were IDF aid workers. Where was the news about that? The dam tragedy in Brazil just 5 weeks ago, IDF was one of the first on the site along with American rescue experts. Where were the news reports?

    The only logical conclusion is do not expect fair or balanced reporting from any news organization. Having a bias is one thing, not admitting that bias, even to themselves, is a disaster for all of us.

  3. Lucia says:

    News reporting about the Midwest floods could imply the government mismanaged the flood control system in order to appease the environmentalists desire for natural seasonal flooding instead of flood control. Can’t have that.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Similar problems have happened in California, but of course you expect it there. If this is so it might be a first for the federal Behemoth, though they’ve certainly made errors in the past that contributed to flooding (e.g., the Mississippi flooding of early 1928).

      • David Ray says:

        EPA fools in concert with save-the-earthers refuse to allow any clearing of dead brush on the ground.
        In times past, rangers would mark white “X”s on fallen tree logs and such. Any who lived in the area would gladly gather it up for firewood & building projects.

        The California gov’t in it’s infinite wisdom squashed that along with imposing other restrictions (cisterns not allowed to fill for one), always insist on more control after every wildfire.

        Just remember; it’s Trump’s fault – just like it’s his fault that that lying trash Jussie Smallette trafficked in vicious slander. (Chicago mayor says so.)

        • Timothy Lane says:

          It’s so convenient for the Behemoth that after every failure, they have an excuse for more power. It has been argued that this was actually the purpose of Obamacare — to fail and thus lead to single-payer, their actual goal.

          Of course, Smollett’s smear resulted not from the evil of Trump but from the overwhelming leftist hatred of Trump, which the smearmonger shared. But as always, Dead Fish Rahm doesn’t want a good crisis to go to waste.

          • David Ray says:

            You’re dead on about “single payer” being the ultimate goal. B. Hussein said so himself on radio once.

            As for lefties trafficking in fraud, I don’t believe for a second that a right-winger sent all those fake bombs to Hillary, CNN, and company. For starters, I’m told that that the myriad of bumper stickers on his van materialized two weeks before the incident all at once. Second; notice how we’ve not heard a peep afterwards. The press would be parading the story around with breathless vigor.
            It was manufactured to take focus off the 100’s of assaults on conservatives, the one on Ted Cruz being most recent.
            Of course, timid Republicans took the story at face value – they always do.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Isn’t it amazing how rapidly stories like that can disappear once the left has no more use for it? Did anything ever happen with the accusations against Herman Cain in 2012 and Roy Moore in 2017?

    • Lucia — this is a big part of it. They should have dynamited the frozen rivers to prevent the damage done by the floating icebergs and to have freed up the rivers to run clear, but they were not allowed to do so. The results of this flood will be felt for a long time by all of us, so we should all be angry. The governor of Nebraska estimates that we lost over a million calves in this flood. The number of hogs is likely to be close to that. Meat prices will be going up.

      • David Ray says:

        Deana, that unfortunately doesn’t surprise me about them not unblocking the ice dams.
        Thanks for the information.

        I hope that idiotic fool Cortez doesn’t take the news about the cows too hard.

      • John Johnson says:

        I live in Fremont, Nebraska. For several days all roads into and out of Fremont were closed due to the flooding. Fortunately my home was unaffected, having been build in ’95 when building codes required all new construction conform to a requirement that the lowest opening into the home be 1 foot above the (1-AO) 1% per year risk flood level. If I am reading the FEMA map correctly, I am in a .2% risk area, (500 year.) I have not heard what the Platte River crested at, but my impression is that the 2019 flood was well below the 100 year flood level.

        Addressing Ms. Chadwell’s comment about using dynamite to break up the ice jams, it has been tried, but has been proven to be ineffective. It may work in deeper flowing rivers, but not the Platte. You may have heard pioneers describing the Platte River being a “A mile wide and foot deep” or “Too thick to drink and too thin to plow.” This is not far from the truth. Although not a mile wide, it is, in the Fremont area, about ¼ mile wide and aside from the main channel, which is constantly moving and may only be 50 feet wide, you can walk across without the water rising above your waist. As such, in a hard winter, much of the river may freeze solid. I saw photos of 2 foot thick ice blocks, which cause major damage to roads, bridges and property. Dynamiting is not effective at either breaking the ice before upstream flows increase, or dislodging an ice dam after it has formed. Dynamiting also has a detrimental effect on the aquatic life.

        I have lived in Fremont for 45 years and this is the 2nd flood of this magnitude I have witnessed. The fist was in ’78. In both instances, flooding occurred after a hard winter. I recall the “River Rats”, those who live and play on the Platte River, saying that if the ice does not break up before February 20th, there will be flooding. And the longer past the 20th, the worst the flooding will be. The theory being, that the downstream ice needs to be out before upstream snow melt increases flow. There was still ice on the lower Platte on the 13th of March. Flooding was inevitable.

        The Corp of Engineers and many business, and communities have constructed levees along the river or around property. These are generally effective for minor cresting of the river, but with a late thaw as we had this year, the levee will invariability be breached. I understand there were 3 breaches in the Fremont area. When a breach occurs, massive amounts of water are released. After cresting, the levees actually cause a problem by not allowing water to flow back to the river. It usually takes 3-4 days of warmer weather for the ice jam to break up.

        Except for the “River Rats,” no one under the age of 60 would have first hand knowledge of the critical date of Feb. 20th. I talked to many people about my fears, but I guess none of them took it serious or I didn’t go high enough. I do not recall anyone, State, Local or news agency, sounding an alarm to forewarn of the extremely high potential for flooding. In my opinion, there was a failure to warn; there should have been people aware of a high probability of flooding. Being forewarned, the response by FEMA, individuals, State, community, business, and relief agencies, should have been to stock pile sand bags, supplies and provision, and move live stock, equipment, vehicles, and personal property to higher ground.

        Sadly, I won’t be around in another 50 years to warn anyone.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I believe the reference I recall to the Platte compared the great (if empty-headed) Nebraska orator William Jennings Bryan to it: “a mile wide at the mouth and six inches deep”. My favorite anti-Bryan insult was, “You could drive a prairie schooner through a Bryan speech without scraping a hub on a solid thought.”

          Experience can be a hard teacher, but a good one.

        • John — It was so good to read your response. Some solid information at last. Much appreciated. dc

  4. David Ray says:

    Nada. The slander against Cain simply disappeared. Bill O’Reilly was done in the same way. (He is threatening to sue, and I hope he does.)
    They dig up liars like “Career Girl Barbie” Ford who “must be heard” when they wish to circumvent any legit case.

    The lady accusing Keith Ellison, however, can’t be bothered to be heard even though she has proof, and, as an added refinement, has no political axe to grind.

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