12 Years Later, Cedar Rapids Flood Still Fresh in My Mind [PHOTOS]
When I look back at the pictures, it still tears my heart out. The images of what people, their homes, and their businesses went through in Cedar Rapids 12 years ago still makes me emotional.
In many ways, it's hard to believe it's been that long. I remember so well the morning the Cedar River was nearing its crest and how the rain just kept coming. And coming. It was the perfect storm of the worst variety. The National Weather Service recap of the events surrounding the flood shows that Cedar Rapids was under four Flash Flood Warnings in eight days preceding the record crest of 31.12 feet on June 13, 2008.
Another thing that sticks with me was when the media put out the call for volunteers to sandbag to save the city's water system. The response to that request was absolutely incredible. Mercy Medical Center was also sandbagged by volunteers that night.
The only way across the river during the flood was I-380. I remember the miles-long traffic jams created by people driving so slowly through the S-curve in downtown Cedar Rapids. People who couldn't believe what they were seeing/living. For days, one lane of the interstate was reserved for emergency vehicles.
The things that I'll never be able to wipe from my memory are the piles of people's lives, left at the curb, and the faces of those affected. And how unfair it was that some parts of the city seemed to be living in a completely different world.
A dozen years later, Cedar Rapids is in the midst of a lengthy process of building permanent flood protection. Drive around the city, and you'll see projects that are completed, several that are underway, and more slated to begin this fall.
Twelve years ago, I remember thinking 'how will we ever recover?' But we have. Even with other threatening floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, Cedar Rapids has persevered. Like two signs at the bottom of the 2008 photo gallery below said, "Bent Not Broken" and "... the River Will Not Win." Like there was ever any doubt Cedar Rapidians would let it.