It's now been over a year since the epic flood of 2008 devastated Cedar Rapids, and I have decidedly mixed emotions. On the one hand downtown businesses are slowly coming back. The flood victims I know personally are either back in their homes or have found other permanent housing. The word is that 50% of homes have been at least partly rehabilitated, and my church has played a small part in that. All of that offers reason for hope.
On the other hand all you have to do is drive through a neighborhood near the Cedar River to see that my city has a long way to go. Alongside businesses that have come back and homes that have been restored, there are houses and businesses that have been abandoned. I have to wonder if they are ever coming back. Every day I say a prayer for those who have been affected by the flood. They probably number in the hundreds if not thousands.
Then there are the public buildings including the historic Paramount Theater with its massive pipe organ and my beloved downtown public library which still doesn't have a permanent home. While the Paramount will be rebuilt in place, the library will be built on a new site. As I predicted, the new site is a contentious subject. All are either in downtown or very near it. As long as it's within bicycle riding distance for the kids who I hope you will use it most, I don't really care. As much as I love the library as an adult, I vividly remember loving it even more as a kid.
And in the end, I've been trying to reread "Epic Surge", a book of photos with text, that was published by the Cedar Rapids Gazette in late 2008 or early 2009. When it first came out the memories were still fresh, and I breezed through it. The photos were impactful but they weren't that far removed from the present. Now a year later they have become painful. Two guys watching helplessly as the flood rushes down their street. Downtown under water. The library flooded up to the roof. It's just hard. I only wish that I had ordered 6 or 7 of these books from the Gazette so that I could send them to family and friends. We are still struggling and need your support.
For now, good night.
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