Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

Joel Wilcox and Thomas Wilcox interview about the Midwest floods of June 2008, Iowa City, Iowa, October 11, 2008

Joel Wilcox and Thomas Wilcox interview about the Midwest floods of June 2008, Iowa City, Iowa, October 11, 2008


Joel Wilcox and Thomas Wilcox interview about the Midwest floods of June 2008, Iowa City, Iowa, October 11, 2008


Interview with father and adopted son Joel Wilcox (56) of Des Moines, Iowa and Thomas Wilcox (16) of Korea
Joel (age 56) and Thomas (age 16) Wilcox recall the flooding of their home on Taft Speedway Street in Iowa City, Iowa. The home had been raised eight (8) feet since the 1993 flooding in the area. The home's first living floor was not flooded in 2008. Joel and Thomas recall moving into temporary housing and the emotional impact this had on their lives.
2nd flood for Thomas and Joel; Thomas 1 year old in 1993; seminal experience of Joel's life; Joel anticipating what would happen. Home destroyed and rebuilt in 1 year in 1993; house raised 8 feet in 1993 rebuild; amount added was just enough- Living area of house not flooded in 2008 basement has some water (00:00:10) -- Out of home for 6 weeks over summer; all of their neighbors were flooded (00:02:20) -- Thomas notes that the flood was an inconvenience, not terribly affected (00:03:00) -- Dubuque St. flooded and closed; had to use Foster Road; lots of time needed to travel through town (00:03:20) -- Family stayed at Idyllwild for 4 days before Idyllwild was evacuated (00:04:08) -- Summer break was altered for Thomas by two moves; stayed with Grandma, then friend; final housing situation brought family together from staying at different places (00:06:03) -- Being together at that time helped ease the feeling of natural growing apart as kids grow up (00:07:36) -- Anxiety of not knowing where the water level was in their house while displaced (00:08:50) -- Neighbor calls to tell that he swam into their house and found that no water had gotten to their living level (00:10:00) -- Hours of scrubbing during clean up; lots of mud in basement and garage (00:10:44) -- Assistance from Parkview Church group to haul away things from basement (00:11:15) -- Felt wounded to clean out house; glad to have help from people who he didn't know (00:12:47) -- Joel talks about community fears of being robbed (00:13:51) -- Joel talks about racial tensions of clean-up process; says there were a lot of Mexicans hired by Idyllwild to do clean-up (00:14:00) -- Son disagrees that race was an issue (00:15:00) -- Neighborhood worried about workers coming into the neighborhood (00:15:30) -- Son doesn't have much of a feeling of loss (00:15:46) -- Recovery process more difficult compared to that of the Flood of 1993 (00:16:21) -- Joel gained valuable experience learning how to rewire house (00:17:31) -- Thomas not aware of the extent to which the university responded; did note he knew they sandbagged Mayflower dorm and that IMU was destroyed (00:18:00) -- Son and father both helped sandbag at Parkview Church through Idyllwild (00:18:53) -- Surprised at the level of sandbagging help that was needed; sandbags only work if you really don't need them. Only one building, the Lindquist Center, was actually saved by sandbagging (00:19:40) -- Thomas learned to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst (00:21:07) -- Joel's mothers' condo in Idyllwild got water in it and is still not back in due to legal problems with condo bylaws (00:22:00) -- Joel concerned about how what the University decides to do, like a levee, will affect the community; difficulty in seeing the big picture in what is going to serve the greatest interest (00:23:39) -- Joel surprised at how fast rebuilding after 1993 produced offers for house that would justify the investment (00:25:30) -- Thomas's worst aspect was the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen to the house, worse than the recovery (00:26:48) -- Joel tallying where the water would be in the house compared to the water level at the same house form 1993 flood (00:28:00) -- Water peaked at 31 feet; 33 feet predicted; Army Corps of Engineers posting 35 feet was the record (00:29:00) -- Thomas surprised by the number of people who didn't help sandbag (00:31:00) -- Joel has opposite reaction to Thomas' reaction to flood recovery efforts, very surprised and happy with community turnout (00:31:40) -- Joel very depressed during the '93 flood; this time he went to a doctor to do preventative care so as to not have anxiety (00:32:30) -- Joel felt joy in the middle of the flood when he got that call from his neighbor; gave him a sense of hope (00:34:00) -- Thomas spent a week at a friend's house; it helped to forget about the flood; some new friends were made on account of the displacement (00:35:35) -- Joel states that there is not yet a sense of normalcy; still planning for the next time so there's no loss; still too early basically for normalcy; working on house repairs (00:37:13) -- Things have returned to normal for Thomas, back at school with the exception of some cleaning, everything feels normal (00:39:00) -- Just now getting house winterized just in time for cold weather (00:40:20) -- Joel's final thoughts - living close to the river brings certain elements that have to be taken in consideration, a sensitivity is needed in order to anticipate natural cycles more than someone who lives away from sources of natural disasters (00:41:46) -- Joel feels that floods could be a climate change issue or a fluke, not sure which (00:43:27).


Wilcox, Thomas; Wilcox, Joel


University of Iowa. Dept. of Anthropology; University of Iowa. Libraries. Digital Research & Publishing




Simons, Noah


Educational use only, no other permissions given. U.S. and international copyright laws may protect this item. Commercial use or distribution of this digital object is not permitted without written permission of the copyright holder.


Iowa City Flood
Flood Oral Histories






Oral histories (Document genres)