LA JOLLA, Calif. -- It was just over a year ago after winning the Masters that Zach Johnson declared himself a regular guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Well, there's nothing regular about Cedar Rapids at the moment. Johnson is at eight-over 150 after two rounds of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines GC but you'll have to forgive him if his mind is a couple of thousand miles away. His family may be California with him but his friends are, literally, under water back home in Iowa.
Johnson was in Cedar Rapids as recently as the Sunday morning before Open week. "It was wet," he said. "I was actually there a week and half for my sister's wedding. That's when the rain started. It's the same band coming up out of the Plains, moving east-northeast every day, it seems like. Flash floods, tornado watches, everything. Every system had it. There's been maybe one or two days off in the last 14. The Midwest has been pounded this year."
The rains sent the Cedar River spilling over its banks. The city's water system was in danger of complete collapse until 1,200 volunteers showed up to protect the last functioning well with sand bags. So far, 24,000 people have been evacuated from the city and the floodwaters are expected to crest at just under 33 feet.
"Any time you got your heart somewhere else, you want to do something for the community. It's only natural," Johnson says. "There are a couple hundred thousand people in that community. They push their own and they support their own and I'm one of them. I'm doing the same thing for them. I've always said if I wasn't playing this game I'd be the one outside the ropes pushing that person that is."
City Hall, the Linn County Jail and Linn County Courthouse are located in buildings on an island in the river. "I saw the picture from 380, which is the interstate," said Johnson, who has been following the developments in the crisis on the Internet and calling friends in Iowa. "There's First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue. Intermingled in those is this island. You see water and two structures sticking out. You see light poles sticking out of the water. That's how you know where the streets are. I can't even fathom. It just seems like it's so far up, under water."
Johnson, who is particularly concerned about his father's chiropractic clinic located just a few blocks from the river, has barely begun to think about how to respond. "It's only been a day and half," he said when he finished playing Friday afternoon. "I've got a lot of friends back there, a lot of family. They're pretty smart individuals. I think we'll put some plan together, something that will help. I don't know if it will be the smallest things or the biggest things. I don't know where things are. It's kind of a question mark because it hasn't stopped yet."
-- Jim Moriarty