6 Years Ago Today: Remembering the Ghost Town of Downtown Cedar Rapids
When you bring up floods in Cedar Rapids, everyone immediately begins talking about 2008, and rightfully so. However, there's another flood that comes to my mind. It changed lives before the Cedar River reached its peak.
When the Cedar River hit the unimaginable crest of 31.12 feet on June 13, 2008, I think it's safe to say the community didn't know what hit it. We certainly weren't ready for the gigantic jump in the crest that day, thanks to heavy rainfall on top of an already swollen river.
The flood of 2008 knocked us down but the city's recovery over the last 14 years has been amazing. Six years ago this month, we were very concerned it was about to happen again.
I took the picture below when I came to work on September 27, 2016, six years ago today. Sandbags were everywhere but other than station personnel (considered vital for public information), city workers, the National Guard, and police officers were the only ones in the downtown area. It had been evacuated due to the rising waters of the Cedar River.
The Cedar River would crest that day (September 27, 2016) at 21.97 feet, the second highest level in history. Unlike 2008, Cedar Rapids had days to prepare and in addition to sandbags, Hesco barriers (photo below) were seemingly everywhere.
Unfortunately, some business and personal property were still lost in 2016, but it was just a fraction of what happened eight years before. In addition to the obvious difference in the depth of the Cedar River, the other difference was city leaders had time to prepare. Cedar Rapids was ready.