Monday, June 8, 2009

A year ago

It's hard to imagine that not only a year ago we had new puppies in the house, but that my community was in a state of emergency, like we have never seen before. Yes that's right, just a year ago the Flood of 08 hit Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. The entire downtown was under water. 500 year flood plains were memories as the water went above and beyond them.

My current office had not only a full basement of water and lost thousands of real estate records covering decades in the town, but there was 2 1/2 feet of water on the first floor. At the time I worked about 20 blocks from the down town at another company, but we were still affected. Our off site tech company went down, we lost power on our grid for a day or so, water was rationed as the city, though under flood waters, had only one pump providing water for the city and that was only working at 65% capacity. The city of Marion had pumper trucks from the fire dept, directing water from Marion to CR via the fire hydrants.

I had some time off so went and worked at the emergency animal shelter. I helped coordinate with our kennel association's president, the AKC and other agencies response to the flooding in both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

The Gazette has some really good stories, photos and reflections at the following link:

What does amaze me is the commitment that so many people have to keeping Cedar Rapids their home. I live in the county, always have but for 7 years-learned city life is not for me. Grew up a farm girl, but still consider Cedar Rapids and Marion my home. Many people just up and left, absolutely no want to stay or even to help build. I actually feel sorry for many of them as they might feel that they lost all but don't realize that they also lost a community when they abandoned their homes. Then there are those that are staying and fighting. There are a couple kids that I teach in 4-H that have been majorly affected. It still amazes me at their resilence. I think it made them better kids and they will be stronger for it. Though I wouldn't honestly wish it on anyone.

There are tons of photos out there, I'm still looking for the link that shows what the Island looked like before, during and after. That for sure will make you go WOW. As I reflect, the moments that I remember most as seeing the Czech Museum with it's lovely red roof-and that's all you see above the flood waters. That just means that behind it, all of Czech Village is under water. Or the gas tanks floating down river-yes underground storage tanks that popped out of the ground! Then there's the fire dept water rescue boats going up and down the streets of the down town, where people and cars should be.

Afterwards it's the piles of debris-belongings, trash and just plain crap that litter the streets, in the businesses, houses, parks, you name it. When you drove downtown the force of the water pulled up the asphalt, the bricks on the sidewalks and moved huge cement planters. In the residental neighborhoods, houses were off their foundations, feet of toxic muck covered everything and waterlines showed you daily just how high the water was.

A year later, many have rebuilt, many more have left. Some houses look brand new, some are slated for demolition. Boarded up buinesses sit next to others that proudly display their "We're Back" banners. It's amazing what has changed, but what has stayed the same.

Not something I wish on anyone but if it had to happen, it did so in the right community. It was commented in emails that unlike many other natural disasters, the communities in Iowa didn't sit and wait, complain about the lack of national help, Iowans just pulled up their boots and started rebuilding on their own. The amount of governmental disaster aid is much less then other disasters, though the end cost is much higher. We didn't sit on our hands waiting for handouts, but got right back to work. It is said that it will take 10 years to get back to normal, what ever that is now. But it only took a few days for the real Cedar Rapids to show itself, with people committed to returning.

That's why I love Iowa-we are just that, committed and proud of who we are.

Later gators...

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