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. 

My eyes welled up when I came to a stop behind an American Red Cross Disaster Relief truck at a stop light. 

My heart ached with when I drove by people waiting in line in front of a FEMA truck.

I was overwhelmed by despair while driving down Ellis Rd….watching hundreds of people literally shovel their lives out the front door and onto their yard.

It feels like I’m watching a natural disaster unfold in a movie, or on CNN. Not just driving to work or a friend’s house. Our city will never be the same.  But this disaster has not changed who we are.  We’re hard workers with an unwavering spirit. 

This was never more apparent then yesterday in Time Check, where I found myself shoulder to shoulder with friends and strangers.  They call it cleaning. Recovery.  But there wasn’t much to clean or recover.

There were tears. There were laughs. There were shared bottles of water, sandwiches, masks and chemical gloves. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and something I never hope to experience again.

But it still moved me.

This same story is unfolding all over Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Iowa City.  Granddaughters are cleaning their grandmothers’ houses, sifting through memories covered in two inches of mud.  Brave young men and women are taking turns guarding our communities at night.  Concerned citizens are salvaging museums, searching for anything to save.  Parents are comforting children who lost everything.  Children are comforting parents who lost everything.  No one is untouched.

This flooding has taken many things from us. Its taken many homes. Its taken iconic bridges. Its taken countless possessions.  Its taken places of business that have stood here much longer than I.  It will steal months of our future that we’ll have to devote to clean up. 

But it has given us something too.  It has made us more compassionate for our neighbors, more giving to our community, and more appreciative of what we still have.

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were, are, and will forever be an amazing place to live. 

posted by: heatherjoy77

For more information on the Flood of 2008, recovery efforts, and how you can help, please visit:




 http://www.andrealynnphoto.com/CRflood2008/  – Photos

1 Comment

Filed under Why it's great to live here

One response to “Historic flooding, historic heartache

  1. Vicki Nikolaidis

    Heather, this is a lovely description of the shocking flood. We’re halfway across the world and it was unbelievable to see the Iowa underwater on the Greek international news. It really shook us up.
    You have a great way of finding good in something difficult!

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