Flood Update

Today I got my first real sense of what business and homeowners will be facing. I helped people salvage what they could from houses that flooded up to the 2nd floor. The experience is incredibly heart-wrenching and images don’t really do it justice. Outside, there are lawnmowers and furniture in the trees; appliances are strewn in ditches and everything is coated with inches of pure muck. Inside, a house’s contents are flung wherever and thick, gunky, moldy muck is over everything. The smells are horrendous. And these were houses in small neighborhoods several miles from the river. It’s just unbelievable to try to imagine the miles and miles of homes that are facing these conditions. Many are unsafe to even walk in as basements are collapsing and floors are rotting. Most of the houses I saw are completely gone. And now the floodwaters are moving down into the far southeast corner of the state and on to the Mississippi.

I had mentioned in my last post that I would try to list some places that are worthy of donations. I will say at the start that the Red Cross disaster funds are currently depleted. The Red Cross will have to borrow money to offer relief for the Iowa floods. So more than ever they seem like a good place to support. Locally, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has opened up a Flood 2008 fund. These funds will support non-profits in Linn County and help with specific flood relief projects. Donations can be sent to PO Box 9, Marion Iowa, 52302. These funds seem like the most wide-reaching ways to put money into Iowa recovery.

A few other options for less-visible but important groups to support:

First, the Legion Arts group has started a fund for low-income artists and musicians who live in the area. Legion Arts has really been a mainstay for cultural development in cedar rapids and their efforts here should really be supported. If you are interested, I’d suggest you go to their website at LegionArts.org. It is uncertain how much damage the legion arts center and stage sustained at this point. You might use this website to track the center itself as I am sure they will need funds to maintain this incredibly important fixture of cedar rapids life.

Second, I have talked with many people about the amazing number of rescued animals and pets who are being housed at this point. This is an often neglected side of such tragedies and, if you are interested, funds can be sent to the Kirkwood Foundation, c/o Friends of the Cedar Rapid Animal Shelter, Kirkwood Community College, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, 52406

Finally, an issue after my own heart. One of the great things about Cedar Rapids is its parks and trails system. Many of the trails have been completely washed away. This system was already in serious financial difficulty, to the point that I have trouble imagining this trail system returning to its old self, let alone expanding as the city hoped. If you want to contribute to the trails system, I would suggest you look at Linn County Trails Association at linncountytrails.org. I recognize that this may seem like a secondary issue at this point, but it’s things like hiking and biking that help give a place character and feel alive, something this area will need in the years to come.

I think the extent of these floods is just starting to become clear to people. It will take a long time to wake from the daze and see the long road ahead. Any help along the way will be more than appreciated.

As always, whatever your situation and place, take care of each other.

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