Floods in the Midwest. Fires in California. Is this Global Warming or what?

OK, we’ll save that discussion for another day. For now, I’d like to know if any HVACR contracting businesses are being affected by the flooding in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and elsewhere - and the same due to the fires in Southern California. Please e-mail me directly (markskaer@achrnews.com) or post a comment below.

Intensive flooding has forced thousands to be evacuated from their homes and businesses in a number of cities and towns in Iowa and along the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri. Living near St. Louis, Mo., I see where the Mississippi River is inching ever-so-close to the base of the Arch, but has not caused any damage - yet - to the city. It’s not been as fortunate in cities like Des Moines, Iowa.

And, the bad news keeps coming.

Floods: Severe thunderstorms rattled northern Missouri early Thursday (6/26) morning, threatening to add even more rain to the swollen Mississippi River and complicate efforts to keep the river from engulfing Des Moines. Even before the latest storms, crews had long labored to strengthen the earthen levee at Winfield, Mo., from dirt slides and spots where water soaks up through the sandy soil. The 2 1/2-mile-long levee about 45 miles northwest of St. Louis is all that’s protecting 100 houses, a city park, several businesses, and 3,000 acres of agricultural land in east Winfield.

Forecasts showed the Mississippi will crest at Winfield at 37.5 feet on Friday (6/27), more than 11 feet above flood stage. But thunderstorms are forecast over the coming days upstream in Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.

At Clarksville, Mo., northwest of St. Louis, a weakened sandbag wall protecting the city’s historic downtown was reinforced and was holding ahead of tomorrow’s (6/27) predicted crest of 36.9 feet. Downstream in Grafton, Ill., the crest forecast for Saturday evening (6/28) was 31 feet, 13 feet above flood stage.

I attended a wedding in Iowa last weekend and saw some of the devastation along the way. It made me wonder if this is causing pain for contractors in the area. Please let me know.

Fires: In California, fire is causing damage. According to an Associated Press report out of Berkley, Calif., hundreds of firefighters were working Thursday (6/26) to protect the scenic community of Big Sur from a lightning-sparked wildfire that inched closer to historic structures after burning 16 homes and threatening another 500 houses. The blaze in the Los Padres National Forest was reported to be only 3 percent contained and had burned nearly 37 square miles near the coast about a mile south of Big Sur.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service predicted more dry lightning toward the end of the week, although forecasters did not expect as severe an electrical storm as occurred last weekend, when nearly 8,000 lightning strikes sparked about 800 fires across Northern California.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Monterey County to assess the damage and said he has called in the National Guard to help fight the fires.

“The fact is that when you have that many fires - and there are still 700 fires left all over the state of California - you get stretched thin with the resources,” Schwarzenegger told AP.

Looking to help: The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), in coordination with the ACCA Disaster Relief Committee, wants to do all it can to help its members in these affected areas. If you are an ACCA member reading this and are aware of any other ACCA member contractor in your area impacted by this situation, after you e-mail me (markskaer@achrnews.com), please contact Rosemary Graeme (Rosemary.Graeme@acca.org).

As ACCA’s Ken Holland noted in his weekly e-newsletter, ACCA Insider: “Some of our ACCA members who have experienced natural disasters advise us that advanced preparedness planning was essential to helping them get their businesses back up and running as soon as possible. To assist our members who wish to establish advance preparedness planning for their companies, please review the Preparedness Checklist at www.acca.org/disaster/.”

Also available is a copy of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) provided by Disaster Relief Committee member Ken Bodwell. This plan can be used as an example and adapted for use by each company.

“Recent serious weather events urge us all to maintain a heightened sense of preparedness to have the best possible outcome should a disaster strike,” stated ACCA’s Holland.

Contributions to the ACCA Disaster Relief Fund can be made by e-mailing Graeme.