A year has passed since last summer's massive floods in Iowa. I was in Cedar Rapids last summer when the city flooded. Luckily, my home is not near the river, but my aunt and uncle had to be evacuated from their home, which is actually blocks and blocks away from the river. It's weird looking back, and realizing that it was a whole year ago that all of Cedar Rapids watched, either on TV or in real life, as the waters kept rising, kept getting closer to their homes and workplaces. I remember how scary it was, even for me, so far away from the river, to watch my town slowly be destroyed, one foot of water at a time.
Although Cedar Rapids has a long way to go to completely come back from the flood, we have made a surprising amount of progress. It is still scary to drive through some of the neighborhoods that were impacted and see how little has changed. Garbage is still piled up on the curb, houses are still stripped empty, siding is still covered in mud. Now feral cats run wild in the area, and you rarely see any people. However, many downtown businesses have returned and people are back in their homes after a lot of hard work. The city of Cedar Rapids is marking this progress on the one year anniversary with a big event called RIVERenaissance.
The events kicked off last night, Thursday, June 11, with a time capsule presentation and the premiere of a locally produced documentary on the flood called "Resilience: the Spirit of Humanity." The trailer for this documentary can be seen here
. It's only a few minutes long, but is pretty frightening and a very accurate portrayal of what Cedar Rapids was like at the time.
Today, June 12, there is a lunch and fundraiser downtown called "Sweet Reunion" to bring together downtown businesses that have returned. Saturday, June 13 is Floodstock, a day-long musical fundraising event with proceeds going to the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to assist in flood recovery. That morning there is also an event called "Run the Flood," another fundraiser. Participants will run or walk a 2.5 mile or seven mile route in the area that was flooded, with markings on telephone poles to show how high the water got in those areas.
I know that many people outside of Cedar Rapids or Iowa may not be interested in these events, but I also want people to know that Cedar Rapids has not given up. I think that my hometown has done a wonderful job at bouncing back from such a horrible tragedy, and it is amazing to see how the community has not only been able to rebuild, but come together and celebrate the advances we have made.
For more information on RIVERenaissance and the Cedar Rapids Downtown District, please visit: