Iowa Floodwaters

Insane photos of Iowa flooding from Boston Globe’s new blog, which they somehow cleverly named "The Big Picture" (bastards!).

Beyond the devastation to humans, the impact of the flooding Mississippi on food prices, insurance and farm land destruction will be quite significant:




The full run of photos are here (via kottke)

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. larster commented on Jun 21

    Just returned from a visit to Des Moines via Chi. Had to detour on Rt 20 to I-35 (adds about 100 miles) and retur4ned via the now open I-80. Having grown up in the Midwest, I can say that I have never seen planting so far behind and the crops looking so miserable. Forget the flooding, regular crops are looking yellow and stunted. We never saw a field as healthy as that shown in the above picture. Saw two different farmers planting coming back and many fields that had not been planted as yet. Remember, I am not talking about flooded ground. Barron’s has it right today when they state that $7.00 corn is baked in the cake right now.

    Barry mentions insurance, which is another long term issue. Farmers are straightining every creek, plowing up wetlands, and tiling out all the lowspots in order to plant more acres. The size of this flood is exascerbated by the flow of all this water out of areas that normally held some of the rain. This is not an Iowa problem, but a national problem and will increase insurance rates dramatically.

    I hasten to add that there is no inflation.

  2. Ferox commented on Jun 21

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Barry.

    Also, did you see Art De Vany’s piece on flood frequencies on his blog? It seems to be up your alley.

  3. wunsacon commented on Jun 21


    Maybe you should prevent the Boston Globe from naming their blog “The Big Picture”.

    Even if you didn’t register for a trademark, you already have many readers across the country. The Globe’s choice of name will cause “confusion in the marketplace” amongst blog readers, because when told of an interesting story on “The Big Picture”:
    – readers who know both “Big Picture” blogs will always have to ask “which one are you referring to?”
    – readers who know only one might assume the wrong one.

    Also, surely, the Globe can pick something else. And, surely, they could’ve searched for “The Big Picture” and discovered (as the very first search result) that a blog by the same name already exists.

    Hmm…but, what am I telling you for? You’re a lawyer!

    Regardless of whether trademark law would support you or not, I do get annoyed when, for example, Mr. Softee names their products after public domain terms that are very descriptive of the product’s features (e.g., “windows”, “SQL”). (Or when “Jeep” took that word out of the public domain.) And your blog name does use a very generic phrase. On this issue, I’m on the fence. But, if the shoe were on the other foot, I bet a corporate newspaper would be emailing you right now, telling you to stop. Also, that “damage” was done, in that you picked the name a while ago. It seems (to me) that you have three choices: (a) rename your blog, (b) prevent others from using the same name, or (c) live with confusion. At this point, if it were me, I’d opt for (b).

    (And if you want to act, act soon, in order to avoid laches.)

  4. ali_m commented on Jun 21

    the most important thing is whose website comes up first on google. Yours came up first.

  5. CPJ commented on Jun 21


    Not only has the newspaper in my beloved Boston stolen your moniker, is running a story about the NBA draft under the heading “The Big Picture” on their front page! As you might say yourself: heard it here first.

  6. dwkunkel commented on Jun 21

    The reason Iowa farmland is so productive and valuable is because it occasionally gets flooded.

    Everything has a cost.

  7. johnnyvee commented on Jun 21

    Financial catastrophes are one thing. Natural catastrophes are quite another. First Katrina in New Orleans and now the Mississippi in Cedar. It appears that the waters of change are upon us—too much in some places and not enough in others.

  8. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jun 21

    I wonder if the religious zealots who view America as god’s experiment in good vs. evil will attribute all of these calamities to their own wicked behavior, or try to foist the blame onto someone else.

    I already know the answer to that. (See: R. Limbaugh on the differences between the Iowa and NoLa floods).

    Jesus Christ, we’re screwed.

  9. bluestatedon commented on Jun 21

    “…religious zealots who view America as god’s experiment in good vs. evil will attribute all of these calamities to their own wicked behavior, or try to foist the blame onto someone else.”

    That’s the defining characteristic of zealots. Never assume any responsibility, always blame others, and do it loudly. If you have a syndicated radio show, so much the better. It’s also the defining characteristic of swine.

  10. John commented on Jun 21

    I also just returned from Iowa. Never saw such a mess. Grew up in Iowa and still have ties to farming and Iowa. Before the last large rain and the floods took full impact, the crops looked really bad, I never recall seeing such terrible looking crops. As was stated above much ground wasn’t planted (it is getting very late and even if planted now chance of yield loss is high). Much crop land was flooded, washed out and stunted and I’m not talking only about river bottoms. Much of Iowa is flat, drained (via tile) and the heavy black soil holds the water for long periods. In fact much of Iowa farm land was marsh, before it was tiled and drained. I would say flooding isn’t good for any farm I’ve ever seen.

    Crops in Iowa (at least the eastern and southern part of the state) are a mess. I returned to Michigan from Iowa to more normal looking crops, much better than anything I saw in Iowa. But Iowa is the Saudi Arabia of corn (and soy beans) , and Michigan is more like the US of oil. IN other words what is produced in Michigan makes very little difference on a national/world scale.

    So there you have it, food will be short this year, prices will be at record highs, I see no other outcome possible. Even before the flood hit, the cost of inputs had risen about 70% from last year and corn and soy were in short supply. The cost of putting in a crop is directly tied to oil/energy with about 80% of the crop input cost determined by energy.

    INflation, what inflation, after all the price of food (as with energy) isn’t included in the inflation figures. So don’t worry, everything will be fine.

    John aka farmera1

  11. scorpio commented on Jun 21

    Cedar Rapids looks like it was a nice town. probly lots of nice families, generations of them, raising nice kids. and whatever their brave statements about starting again, it’s probly over for most of them. they will have to give serious consideration to living elsewhere, as will the good people of Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, LA, Miami, New Orleans…

  12. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jun 21

    awhile back ‘Beans in the Teens’ was just a glimmer in the eye of a Long looking to pyramid his positions up the parabola..

    U$D 7 / bu. Corn has come and gone, we’ll be lucky if it, too, doesn’t turn into a teenager..

  13. DonKei commented on Jun 21


    I’m w/ wunsacon. I’m a lawyer, too, and my two cents on the issue is the same–if you don’t protect your turf you lose it.

    On the other hand, the Globe might generate a few extra views for you. I would imagine you’d have an easier job stealing their readers than they would stealing yours, so if both blogs came up on a search, and someone from the Globe accidently came upon yours, you just won another viewer. Whereas, if I/many others come across the Globe by accident, I’ll just bitch about it and go find the REAL Big Picture. In fact, if you decided to adjust your name, that might be a good one…

    Many thanks for all the insight and info over the last few months that I’ve been a regular.

  14. Mike in NOLA commented on Jun 22

    I remember being impressed with some remarks by Robert Rubin I saw a few months ago. He mentioned the thesis that America’s economic power was actually in food more than any other sector. Seems like something we could use for leverage if we had a government with a clue. You can’t eat Asian-manufactured consumer goods or oil.

    The “food weapon” could be more powerful than the oil weapon and do wonders for our balance of payments.

    But, I forget. We can’t use trade to our advantage. Only to enrich those who can outsource.

  15. john haskell commented on Jun 23

    Every fifteen years Cedar Rapids et al get flooded. Then someone tells them, “don’t worry, it was a five hundred year flood” and they move back in and rebuild, then are flooded again.

    These are the people whose ‘first in the nation caucus’ is decisive in choosing who runs the country.

  16. SportsBIz commented on Jun 24

    As a recovering lawyer and now fellow media member, I join the legal brigade in advising that if you don’t assert your rights, you will lose them. In short, fire off a legal demand letter to the Globe and the LA Times demanding that they cease and desist from using your name. It may not do any good, but it’s the necessary first step. But, of course, you already knew all that, didn’t you?

    Iowa is a sad story but the response of the administration to the disaster in Iowa and surrounding country stands in stark contrast to the continuing non-response to Katrina ravaged New Orleans. There are still FEMA supplies that have yet to reach New Orleans refugees – I suppose they will now be diverted to Iowa.

  17. Holly commented on Aug 13

    Thats just frightening to see the city under water like that. If a city or area has a tendancy of getting flooded wouldnt they take the appropriate preacutions for as little dammage as possible for the next time around?

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