Monthly Archives: June 2008

What it takes to rebuild

As I sit at my high and dry computer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I continue to think about how lucky most of us were in the recent flood of 2008.

Yes. It was a record by a wide margin.

Thousands of people were evacuated. Homes were lost. A lot of ’em. Businesses were lost. A lot of them, and some won’t come back. Lives were disrupted.

Cedar Rapids lost its police HQ, main fire station, city hall, main public library. The county lost its offices, sheriff’s office and jail. Cedar Rapids lost one of its two hospitals. The list is too long to recount here.

The University of Iowa had water in 20 major buildings.

Recovery will take years. Some may never recover. 

At one point, seven radio stations were either off-air or operating with emergency facilities.

Folks from around the country have written or called. I asked them, “Did you see the pictures? It’s worse than that.”

However, we are very lucky. It could have been even worse. There were no lives lost in our immediate area attributable to the flooding. There were only two looters nabbed, so not much looting. Flooded areas were heavily patrolled.

The personal loss to some is incomprehensible. House. All personal property. Car. But they survived.

Cedar Rapids community leaders had the wisdom to talk to the folks in Grand Forks, North Dakota. You remember them. In 1997 they lost 80% of their downtown to flood and fire. They have seen the devastation and they have fought back.

Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Iowa City, Palo all have the spirit to rebuild. To recommit.

To paraphrase from “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1974), “A city barely alive. We can rebuild. We have the technology. We have the capability…”

Perhaps most important, we still have the spirit!

by: Eliot Keller, president and general manager of KZIA Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


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Historic flooding, historic heartache

The city of Cedar Rapids has changed forever.  Time will now be recorded for this city based on events before the flood and after the flood.

This quote from Cedar Rapids’ City Manager in Tuesday’s Gazette really resonated with me.  I have been searching for ways to express what I’ve seen and felt, and have come up a bit lost for words.  I am one of the lucky few whose home and place of work were unharmed.  I have watched the devastation unfold from an arm’s length, but it’s still surprising when the emotions overtake you. 

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Get Involved, Move Up, Feel Safe

Three of the biggest benefits to living in a state like Iowa — and Cedar Rapids in particular, flood or no flood — are:

  1. It’s easy to get involved in activities you enjoy.
  2. The area is conducive to strengthening your career.
  3. It’s a place where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety most of the time.

Getting Involved

I can’t think of a more welcoming place than Iowa. And some of the most welcoming people are involved in nonprofit organizations. Volunteering is a great way to get to know those people who care about the same things you do. And now, with the aftermath of the Great Flood looming and many organizations and families displaced, people need your help more than ever. The Red Cross and other disaster relief orgs will likely need help for many weeks to come.

Love animals? The humane society would love your help. Love kids? Get involved in kids programs at the public library, the History Center or some other museum. The list goes on. Whether you’re passionate about finding a cure for a disease or helping persons with disabilities have a little fun (like I do at Miracles in Motion), you can easily find a way to put your skills to use and engage in a worthwhile activity.

Clubs are another way to get involved. Enthusiasts can have a great time around here! Just the few things I’m aware of are bike clubs, car clubs, service organizations, industry-specific groups (like the one I’m in — AAF:CR-IC), speaking clubs, flyball dog groups, etc. etc. The nice thing is, the commute is short, so you have time for family and yet you don’t have to give up your fun stuff.

Strengthening Your Career

Many fascinating industries populate the Corridor, from biotech to Web-related, transportation to food. They are all looking for quality individuals willing to work hard to make their products and services better. If you’re smart and dedicated, you can probably find yourself on a career track you’ll enjoy for many years.

Another career builder more readily available here is obtaining board experience. Many nonprofits and for-profits want people to help them in decisionmaking, raising capital and the like. It’s good for them to have you share your expertise and for you to have the opportunity to grow something beyond your 9 to 5.

Leave Your Worries Behind

Driving down the street at night, I rarely, if ever, worry about getting carjacked or some other crazy stuff going down. Although violent crime sometimes does strike, it is rare, and it’s even rarer that the bad guy gets away. Honestly, I have come to take for granted the freedom I have to do things like jog by myself or take a walk at night — things I wouldn’t consider doing in cities like Chicago or many areas of Minneapolis.

While I enjoy those cities during short visits, I know that the stress level of city life would take its toll at times. We have it pretty good in those respects here in Iowa.

Ruth Paarmann, owner of Paarlance Creative Writing, loves the idea of luring other former Iowans back to the state!

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Inexpensive and quick family getaway

The Corridor is ideally located for quick weekend getaways. Recently, we each packed a bag and headed just two hours west to Des Moines.

We stayed at Adventureland Inn in Altoona because our 4-year old loves waterparks and the hotel has two pool areas with play features. If we had never left the hotel and just played in the water, he would have been satisfied.

One of our first stops was Graziano Bros., a family-run Italian grocery store just south of downtown. I remember visiting the store as a child and being smacked by the delicious aromas of oregano, garlic and olive oil as you open the door. I definitely wasn’t let down! Here, you can purchase olive oil in gallon containers. Delish!
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View masterful gardens, get gardening tips from experts

In 2007, 71 percent of all U.S. households or an estimated 82 million households participated in one or more types of lawn and garden activities.

These numbers make gardening the fourth most popular hobby and leisure activity, tied with fishing. According to Harris Interactive, the most popular activities is reading followed by watching TV.

Corridorians can view some of the regions’ best gardens to get creative ideas for landscaping, ponds and flower beds on Saturday, June 14, from The first Master Gardener’s Garden Walk will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The walk, presented by Iowa State University Extension Linn County Master Gardeners, features five diverse gardens with beds highlighting creative landscaping, ornamental grasses, conifers, vegetables, perennials, containers, and ponds.

Master Gardeners will be available at all sites to answer questions and offer advice.

The cost is $5 for adults or $10 for families. Maps and information is available at click on Garden Walk, or call 319.447.0647.

posted by: lschreiber

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