Great Iowa Flood of 2008
The aftermath

I live four long blocks from the Cedar River.
In the 500-year flood plain.

Like you're on the moon. Everything covered in dried mud.

Can see my footprints.

The window AC was high enough, but not the house AC.

Mud in the car too.

The veneer pealed off the front door.

Yeah. The important papers in those file cabinets
are gonna take some time to dry out.

My TV - dead, face down in the mud.

I usually keep my bathroom cleaner than this, but not much.

Its called a fire-safe, not a flood-safe.

Anyone want any muddy, soggy comic books.

When I abandoned my house Thursday morning
I put these seedlings in a pie pan with some water,
left them in the sink and said,
"I hope you guys make it."
Found them on the floor doing just fine.

Time to start hauling it all to the curb.

Brace yourself, for a scary story

Wednesday, June 11, 2008, the Cedar River was rising and water backing outta some storm sewers and filling some intersections. It was not yet coming over the tops of any bridges. Some volunteers came to my house, about 6 people, and told me I needed to evacuate. The volunteers looked very despondent. One girl was almost in tears. (Days later people would ask me why didn't I leave when they told me to. Well, it wasn't the Army Corp of Engineers at my door. It was volunteers, mostly HS girls, telling me that something that had never happened before, was gonna happen. So maybe you'll understand why I didn't believe them) At 5:00 pm I went to my brothers house to move stuff outta the basement and a friend took all the meat in their basement freezer. When I went to bed at midnight there was no water in the street nor in my neighborhood, but it was raining.

When I woke up at 3:00 am Thursday there was 2 ft of rushing water in my street. In my basement, I had water pouring down the walls. I worked to get my sumppump going. As water started filling up, and inched toward my baseboard heaters I installed 6 months earlier, I realized I had to shut off some breakers in the fuse box so I didn't get fried. I then got my camera to take some pics. Then, POP!, the power went off (the City cut it) I had to use the light from the LED screen of my camera to get out of my basement. By now (4:00 am) there was 3 ft water in the street. I knew my car could not get thru that. So I went back to bed.

But I didn't sleep much because a CO2-gas-detector that was plugged into a basement wall outlet kept chirping. They do that when there is no electricity and it is running on battery power. But the water kept rising and eventally the detector gurgled dead. By 5:00 am the sun was up. I ate breakfast and put some stuff on higher shelves. In hindsight, I should have moved everything to the second floor.

By 6:00 am the water outside and in the basement was 9 inches below the first floor and half way up the side of my car. Time to abandon ship. I put my satchel, ID, keys, etc in one plastic trash bag and some clothes in another trash bag. The water in the street was head-high but only chest-high in my yard. I knew dry land was only 2-3 blocks away and the water was not cold so I thought I'd just wade out. But luck would have it that two firemen in a boat came by just as I was gonna leave. They took me and my neighbors to dry land 2 blocks away. Another fireman took us to a shelter, but that was being closed, so he had to take us across town to get to another. I used my neighbors cellphone to call my brother, who just made it back from vacation the previous night. He took me to my mother's in Marion. Marion has little or no flood damage.

Life in Cedar Rapids was eery and abnormal. Normally there are six in-town bridges over the river. For more than a week there was only one. There were National Guardsmen barring people from the flooded areas. And local TV had 24-hour flood coverage. They said we would be allowed entry on Monday, June 16th, through various check points. I went to my check point on Monday and they said my neighborhood still had water.

So my house, new garage, car, and dad's old truck were underwater for a few days. Unlike many others, including my brother, I have flood insurance. Hopefully the insurance company will deem my house a total loss, cut me a check, and I'll rebuild elsewhere. Worse case scenario is they say, "we'll pay you a few thousand for the clean up." I'm not that upset about the personal items damaged. I'm not a person that believes, "Whoever dies with the most toys is the winner." But it would be less of a burden on me if I'd left earlier with my car and more clothes. Callie, my ex-girlfriend, got really lucky. She had been living with me for about a year but a month before the flood she broke up with me and moved out.

The worst part was being in limbo. Until the water receded there is nothing to do. The insurance company would not do anything until the flood is gone and they can make a full inspection. All my computers are underwater. So no gaming. I quit my job for the summer to remodel my house, so for a few days I had nothing to do. But wait.

On Wednesday, June 18th, I was driving down 6th Street SW and decided to see how close I could get to my house. Next thing I knew, I was pulling into my driveway. I took pictures, many are on this webpage. A few days later, I started cleaning up. My house had a yellow plackard on it. Yellow meant safe to enter, but no occupancy. Every house on my street had yellow. I had water, but they pulled the electricity and gas meters. I've done the cleaning and demolition myself. I haven't asked for volunteers because I know there are alot of people worse off than me that need those volunteers. I did apply with FEMA. They gave me $480. FEMA said my flood insurance should cover me. I was at my mom's apartment only a few days. Luckily a friend had a spare bedroom and he lives about a mile from my house.

My take on all this: Experts say global warming will make the midwest the new amazon. They are correct. We will have huge amounts of late winter and spring precipitation. A guy the TV news interviewed was right-on-the-money when he said, "I'm in a 100-year flood plain, but have been flooded out twice in 15 years." The 100-yr flood will now be every 10 yrs. The 500-yr every 25 yrs.

You know the stats: the record river depth was 20 ft, on Friday the 13th it crested just over 31 ft. Cedar Rapids will have to dredge the Cedar River down 20-30 more feet and build super levees, or abandon the downtown area. City officials/planners will have to rethink everything. CR will have to make its four water pumps safe from flood. Vinton will have to move its power station to higher ground. Iowa City will have to abandon Mayflower and the IMU. Either way, people will learn alot from this flood. Catastophies are good teachers.

Back to Cal's house