Sunday, June 15, 2008

The news from Cedar Rapids

My blog buddies Scott and Andrew live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where massive flooding has been in the news all week. I sent them a quick e-mail yesterday morning to see how they were doing. Scott's response really made it hit home just how devastating this is.

"Hi Matt,

Yes, we are fine. We actually live in Marion which is connected to Cedar Rapids on the East side, but far from any major body of water. We are soggy from all the rain, but no flooding near us.

It's so sad to drive through downtown Cedar Rapids and see all the houses that are completely under water. Most of those are older houses in neighborhoods that are pretty low income areas closest to downtown. I don't know how most of those people are going to come back from this. It's just so sad. The media is talking about the fact that most of those homes will not be able to come back from the flooding and will likely have to be torn down. Being under all that water they will very likely suffer structural damage if not completely knocked off their foundations because the flood waters are moving so fast down river.
The power of the current is mind boggling! A perfect example is that railroad bridge that was completely destroyed and washed down river even with over 20 rail cars loaded with rock and sand sitting on it.

I'm actually at work this morning. My company asked some of us to come in today to help out with the demand that we have because of all the flooding. My company, amoung other things, makes suction and discharge hoses that are used by commercial pumps. The demand is extremely high for these items right now, as you can imagine.

Andrew and I have a couple of friends who live within a few block of the river downtown. The house that they rent has water up to the second floor and they have lost everything that they owned with the exception of a suitcase of clothes. They have places to go since both have family in town but I just can't imagine losing everything. They had stacked everything up high enough to be safe according to what the river height was supposed to get to but it actually went several feet higher than predicted. One of the videos that was played over and over on TV over the past couple of days, had a clear shot of their house and there is no way anything will be saved from there.

As I drove over the interstate 380 bridge coming to work this morning, the water has receeded just enough to see all the debris that is plastered up against all the bridges. I just can't imagine how long the clean up is going to take.

Another really strange thing to see is a second railroad bridge just north of the interstate 380 bridge that has at least 10 to 12 large houseboats up against it. They were permenantly docked on a section of the river about a mile upstream. when the water got so high they broke free from their docks and floated down stream and slammed against that bridge. There was concern for a while that that bridge would fail and it and the houseboats and rail cars would take out the interstate bridge. That would have been disaterous. If that had happened, getting from the north side of Cedar Rapids to the South side would have meant about a 200 mile trip. Mind blowing!

They announced yesterday that the 4th of July "Freedom Festival" will be postponed till probably Labor Day. That's a week long festival that takes place downtown starting the week before the 4th every year.

So, to answer your question, yes, we're fine. Now if only we can keep some of the rain away for the near future...

Thanks for thinking of us.



Lewis said...

I swear, it's amazing these floods, earthquakes, volcanos erupting, etc. And it's the common folk, the friends and family, that take it in the shorts, unfortunately. Thanks for the update.

cb said...

Here in minneapolis we are on the north side of all the flooding. We are having nothing but an unseasonably cool summer.

All the shit is happening south.