COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Missouri River rose, the sandbags went up and the warnings went out. The City of Council Bluffs took precautions to keep the rising Missouri River floodwaters out of schools and neighborhoods.
The kids were listening. The kids noticed. And the kids acted.
On Wednesday, Walnut Grove Elementary School third-graders presented more than 100 thank-you notes and letters to Mayor Tom Hanafan and Fire Chief Alan Byers on behalf of both Walnut Grove and Franklin Elementary Schools.
Written by children from all grade levels, they ranged from notes scrawled on half-sheets of paper to messages on pre-printed "Thank You" cards.
Both schools were deemed most at risk if the flooding were to occur.
"Thank you for saving us. I am happy," one note said.
"Thank you for making the river go down," another said, accompanied by a drawing of a shark poking its nose out of the water.
"Alaiya in Iowa" drew pictures of sandbags and police officers to illustrate her message, "Thank you for not letting it flood," while Miranda's note to "Dear Emergency" thanked everyone "for saving me and my family."
"Thanks for keeping our city safe," one wrote. "Thank you National Guard, policeman, firefighters and sheriff department who spent hours worrying about our safety."
Walnut Grove third-grade teacher Michaella Thelen said the letter-writers were asked to write a thank-you note to someone involved in keeping the flooding at bay.
"Thank you mayor, you're the best person ever. I don't want you to ever die," one child wrote, while another wrote, "Thank you for saving my house from getting flooded so our stuff wouldn't get flooded."
"Your fan, Alexa Perkins" summed up her thoughts with: "Nice job."
Hanafan told the children, "Hundreds of people were involved. We spent $11 million to protect the city."
The mayor added: "We'll make sure all the workers see the letters."
Anthony Arenas wrote that he was thankful the floodwaters have receded, but still had a question:
"What are we going to do with the big, big hole where the water was?"