The first time that I encountered a river flood warning in the weather forecast, I was worried. After all, I had never lived close to a river before I moved to central Illinois last fall — just in time for the floods in September — so I had no idea what to expect.

The first time that I encountered a river flood warning in the weather forecast, I was worried. After all, I had never lived close to a river before I moved to central Illinois last fall — just in time for the floods in September — so I had no idea what to expect.


As I quickly learned, people who live near rivers know exactly what to expect from a flood. And, more importantly, they know how to prepare when the water begins to rise and how to cope until it recedes.


Working as a reporter for the Pekin Times, I interviewed some residents of a flooded subdivision near the Mackinaw River, and their attitudes both surprised and impressed me. To them, the flooding was just another part of life, and they developed ways to deal with it because they had no choice.


I received the same response whenever I called a local law enforcement agency after a flood.


“No, we haven’t had any major problems,” they would say. “We’ve seen this before, and we know how to deal with it.”


Now that I’ve lived here for a while, I don’t get too worried about flood warnings anymore. Of course, my apartment isn’t close to the river, and I still watch out for flooded roads when I’m driving, but now I know what to expect.  Flooding is just another part of life here in central Illinois, so we can either live with it or move to drier land.


Of course, this region isn’t the only place where people must learn to cope with their environments. When I lived in San Francisco last summer, I made sure that I had everything I would need in the event of an earthquake. When I proudly told my cousin, who had lived in the city for several years, that I had purchased all the necessary supplies, she reacted the same way as if I had told her that I bought some food that week.


During my freshman year of college, a California native in my dorm could tell us plenty of stories about earthquakes, but she was shocked by all the Midwesterners’ calm reactions to a tornado siren during a spring storm. During her four years in Missouri, however, she quickly learned what to do when she heard that siren. And although I never experienced an earthquake during my time in San Francisco (and I slept through the quake that hit the Midwest last year), I’m sure I would have adapted if I had lived in the city for a longer period of time.


That’s one of the best things about the human race: We adapt.  No matter what life throws at us, we have the ability to deal with it — even though it may not seem like it at first. And this part of our nature is not just confined to dealing with the physical conditions of the world around us.


When we get bad news — about our finances, our jobs, our health, our loved ones or anything else that’s important to us — it can seem like there’s nothing we can do to overcome it. Like a river after a rainstorm, our troubles keep rising until we’re completely overwhelmed.


But, just like the river, our problems will eventually recede, leaving us stronger that then ever. We just can’t let those problems defeat us. No matter how difficult it may seem, we have to keep fighting — and we have to adapt.


That’s more important than ever to remember in the face of the recession. Bad news about the economy may continue to flood our lives day after day, but we can still adapt. It will be difficult, but it is possible to keep our heads above the water until it recedes.


So, the next time you hear bad news about the economy, think of it the way that I think about a river flood warning: It’s something to be concerned about, but it’s nothing that we can’t deal with.


Amanda Jacobs can be reached at (309) 346-1111 ext. 663 or ajacobs@pekintimes.com.