Looking Back On How Far Cedar Rapids Has Come Since 2008 Flood
The calendar says it's been 10 years, but it seems so much more recent. June 13, 2008 was the pinnacle of one of the worst times in many people's lives here in eastern Iowa. It's the day the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids crested at 31.12 feet, more than 11 feet above the highest level it had ever reached in the city's history to that point. (The river reached its second-highest crest on September 27, 2016, when it reached 22 feet.)
That may have been the day the river crested, but the foreboding of trouble came days earlier when a bridge in Cedar Falls gave way because of the high water. That's the day I became overcome with worry and was the day Cedar Rapids knew it was in for something the likes of which it had never seen before.
I remember being in our downtown building, which became part of the river, during the height of the river's rise. I remember watching office furniture speed down city streets, where water lapped at the bottom of stop signs. I remember feeling helpless, but at the same time so lucky. Yes, our radio station was displaced by the flood but so many people lost so much. Watching them have no idea where to begin recovery. Seeing them pile their lives, lost to the water, on the curbs by their homes just tore your heart out. Those of us who were lucky enough not to be affected personally could never begin to know what they went through. Their resiliency was and still is, something everyone should admire.
Now, 10 years have passed, the calendar says. In many places, there is only grass where homes stood and families once lived. However, stop and think for a moment what's here now that wasn't here 10 years ago and you have to be impressed.
New Bo, downtown, Czech Village, and large areas of the west side across from "downtown" have made incredible strides in their recovery, many times with new development. The city continues to work on permanent flood protection... a lengthy and costly process, but something that's absolutely vital.
I could go on and on about how proud I am of Cedar Rapids and its people over the last decade. In 2008, I remember wondering how the city would ever make it back. It has and I think it's even better than it was before, even though many of the changes came without choice. I've made Cedar Rapids my home for the last 28 years but the last 10 I've been especially proud to say "I'm from Cedar Rapids, Iowa." God how I love this place and the people that continue to make it what it is.