Mayor’s Speech Brings Tears, Applause [VIDEO]
The Cedar River's crest has passed. The water is going down in Cedar Rapids. Now, it's time to release some of the pent-up emotion. That's exactly what happened during Mayor Corbett's speech at a morning press conference.
Today was the seventh consecutive day I've attended a press conference concerning the Cedar Rapids flood. I remember the jam-packed City Council Chambers at City Hall last Thursday. The anxiety was all over the faces of our elected officials, media, business owners, and citizens who attended. Gradually over the last week those fears have subsided as the forecast crest lowered, city officials and crews put together an incredible protection plan and implemented it, and as the community responded in overwhelming numbers to help with the effort.
Yesterday, the Cedar River crested and though, as of this morning, the river was still 3-feet higher than the NewBo area of our city, it was time to pause for just a moment. To relax for a second and reflect. What has happened in this city over the last week has been one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Why? I believe Mayor Ron Corbett said it best during this morning's press conference. During his speech, I could hear people struggling to keep their emotions in check. I was one of them. Though you won't hear it in the video, there was a large eruption of applause when he finished his speech. It's an extreme rarity to hear that at a press conference but today, the city and its citizens deserved it.
This morning's press conference also revealed plenty of good news. The city has lowered the evacuation zone from the 28-foot flood level to 24-feet (see graphic below). Barricades have moved closer to the river. Some people are returning to their homes and businesses with more to come, soon.
The left lane of Interstate 380 through Cedar Rapids is now open to all traffic, but Fire Chief Mark English reminded drivers to watch their rear view mirror for emergency vehicles. Especially now, while I-380 remains the only way across the Cedar River in the city limits.
Prior to the start of the press conference, Public Works Director Jen Winter told me some city employees had worked nearly non-stop for as much as 72 hours. She said she jokingly told some of them if they didn't go home to get some sleep, she was going to fire them. That's dedication. Dedication that was so crucial as the water's rose.
Garbage collection will return to flood-affected areas next week. Citizens in those zones can put an additional two 35-pound garbage bags out next week for no extra cost. Sandbags can be taken to the Linn County Landfill. Expect regular fees if you take them there. The city is working on a plan for removal of dry and wet sandbags from evacuation areas and will communicate more information as soon as its available. The city also asked that you DO NOT put any sandbags in your trash cans. Trucks and other equipment are not equipped to handle the weight.
If your property incurred damage and you need repairs, call (319) 286-5929 to make sure the contractor you're considering is licensed to work in the state of Iowa. This is for your protection, so please call the number before you have any work done.
The final piece of information from this morning was the Cedar Rapids Public Library will open for business again next week. Another sign of normality returning. Streets and bridges will undoubtedly open prior to that, returning traffic to more manageable levels. We'll all be thankful for that as well.