Today’s update on the Cedar Rapids flooding is sober, at best. And in case anyone in the country still doesn’t think this will affect them – the estimated Iowa crop losses are at $3 billion, at the moment.
Today’s paper had me close to tears. As the flood waters recede in Cedar Rapids (they have yet to recede in Iowa City), we’re beginning to comprehend the enormity of our losses. I’ll just list what I can remember:
Mercy Hospital remains closed. St. Luke’s has renamed itself temporarily, “Cedar Rapids’ Hospital” in cooperation with Mercy, and they are overwhelmed with patients. Staff from Mercy is helping, but the emergency room in particular is overflowing. St. Luke’s had fish in their parking ramp and lost power, so we are extremely fortunate that we still have one hospital.
The Paramount Theatre sustained extraordinary damage, in the millions. This one in particular hurts…it is the jewel of our downtown. The glass entrance doors were knocked off as the water rose to just under the marqee and the water just flowed into that giant “bowl.”
The library announced today that they lost the entire adult collection. Only the children’s materials on the 2nd floor should be OK.
The new YMCA had it’s entire 1st floor swamped, including the pool, the gym, etc.
Quaker Oats, still the world’s largest cereal mill, is closed indefinitely. They announced today they will be back but it will be a long time from now.
The Czech Museum and Czech Village sustained extraordinary damage. The entire area is on the National Historic Registry….so much is lost forever.
The police station, the sheriff’s office and downtown fire station were flooded and are closed for an undertermined amount of time. At first there was no looting, but now we’ve had reports of gangs of looters coming in from out of town. A private guard, watching Boyson’s Jewelers, chased a group of about 20 out of the Town Centre building (old Killian’s) with 2 guard dogs and a sawed-off shotgun.
All the government offices on May’s Island and the Linn County jail are closed indefinitely. The federal courthouse is also badly damaged.
The Science Station was gutted.
The school board building was flooded.
Theatre Cedar Rapids was badly damaged, but they believe the building itself is structurally sound. They lost a vast costume collection and the other local historic organ (the Paramount and Theatre Cedar Rapids housed 2 of 40 in the world) was badly damaged.
Iowa Realty sustained structural damage and it’s feared that this high-rise may have to be razed.
The African-Amercan Museum announced yesterday that they “took a tremendous hit” but believe they can recover their building.
The CR Museum of Art only flooded in the basement, so they did not lose major collections, but have a massive clean-up ahead.
Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City is still underwater up to row J. Again, damage in the millions. Iowa City still has many areas under water, such as the Coralville strip.
37 restaurants were flooded. Our two newest and nicest downtown restaurants, Blend and Zin’s, are so heavily damaged that they do not believe they can come back.
US Bank (Merchants Bank) is heavily damaged and has structural damage of deep concern….also one of CR’s most historic buildings. People are very concerned about their safety deposit boxes at US and Guaranty Banks….they are in the basement…..no access yet. Ginsberg Jewelers had all their inventory in a vault but the water still seeped in, destroying pearls and other items.
The “strike teams” are assessing over 4000 homes to see if they can be saved. In the end, 9.2 square miles of the city was evacuated. Approximately 1300 city blocks flooded. A delegation from the city visited Grand Forks, ND on Tuesday and were bluntly told that rebuilding will take 10 years and will be a contentious and difficult time. Already 6,000-7,000 jobs have been lost.
Merrill Lynch, which my nephew manages, is completely destroyed. The glass walls gave way to the flood waters.
The photos are INCREDIBLE…..a new grand piano in the Czech Museum turned completely unpside down. A deck from a home washed down several blocks resting against another home, with its grill and patio furniture sitting intact. A koi (big goldfish) swimming in a puddle outside Hancher. Sludge up the walls of homes and businesses to heights of 7, 8, 9 feet and more. Many homeowners who pledged they would rebuild have changed their mind once they actually got inside. So many people have lost EVERYTHING. The one thing we can truly be grateful for is that there has been no loss of life directly attributed to the flood. A woman found dead in her flooded basement apparently died of a heart attack. Accidents and illness, however, are beginning to take a toll.
One business owner stated it very well when she said, “We imagined the worst and it was worse than that.”
I apologize for the grim tone of this e-mail. Still, I know you want to be updated.
Please visit http://www.2008flood.org or http://www.corridorrecovery.org for more information.