Cedar Rapids Resurrected

Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival 2012 (click for large view and opportunity to buy)






Recovering.  I did not say Recovered.

All strong words.  All strong statements.  All true when it comes to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Cedar Rapids is the 2nd largest city in Iowa and gets its name from the Cedar River that runs through the heart of downtown. On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River became the Cedar Ocean to 100% of the population living downtown.  The city’s core was virtually destroyed that week.  The flood waters hit an astounding 31 feet, 19 feet above flood stage, and shattered the former high crest by over 11 feet!  Suddenly, there were no more music venues, no more arts district, no more museums, no more restaurants, no more government offices, no more police station, no more central fire station, no more ground transportation hub and for 18,000 residents, no more homes.  None.  Nada.  Gone.  Drowned.  Amazingly, no one perished.  Can you imagine the city you live in, the city you thrive in one day, virtually washed away the next?  Actually, a worse case weather scenario has happened to only one other U.S. city – New Orleans, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Fast forward to 2012.  July 4, 2012 and just over 4 years since total devastation became the city’s 6th season (Cedar Rapids refers to itself as the City of 5 Seasons).  The city is proud of its Freedom Festival celebration which begins in mid-June and culminates with a July 4 freedom party.  The party is back downtown where it belongs.

I managed to get a great spot along the Cedar River this day to capture some images from the Freedom Festival fireworks.  I hope you enjoy these.  Be thankful for what you have.  Be thankful for those that persevere through the darkest of times.  What God allows to be taken away, God provides a thousand times more.

In 2008, this location was completely underwater. Tonight, this family eagerly awaits the start of the fireworks display.
The darkened building in the foreground is the Veterans Memorial Building. This building is a landmark in Cedar Rapids and sits on May’s Island. The Cedar River flows around it. The building took on heavy flooding and is still being repaired.
At the far left of this shot you can see construction progressing on the new convention center. It will adjoin to the major hotel downtown which is also being completely renovated and will soon be a Doubletree.

In the 12 months following the great flood of 2008 a lot of money was raised to aid in the rebuilding.  However, Cedar Rapids needs more funds.  The city is proud to boast several famous sports figures and celebrities as their own, including Super Bowl Champion quarterback Kurt Warner, Masters Champion Zach Johnson and actor Ashton Kutcher just to name a few.  All three of these men have played a big role in the fundraising efforts.  Unfortunately, more needs to be done.  It is quite possible that even though this flood might be thought of as a freak of nature and surpassed the 500-year flood plane, walls and levees being designed to prevent this catastrophe from ever happening again will not be completed until 2024.

For more information, please go to http://www.cedarrapidsfloodstory.com/statistics/.  The people of Cedar Rapids appreciate your support.

Freedom Festival 2012

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynn Madsen says:

    Great blog Dennis – the fireworks were amazing last night! Thanks for the pictures!

    1. webcentrick says:

      Thanks for the comment and stopping by, Lynn. I hope you and your family are well.

  2. Back in the day, when I worked, I had a business trip to Cedar Rapids. With a free afternoon I wandered downtown and found your art museum. I was surprised to find American Gothic and other Grant Wood works there. I did not know it was his childhood home and spent a pleasant afternoon enjoying his and other’s works. I was unaware of the floods you suffered. It’s sad that so many places are hit with natural disasters…floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires. They all seem to run together and you wish you could do more to help everyone impacted. A fond memory though is worth an extra step. Nice post and photos.

    1. webcentrick says:

      Thankfully the Art Museum was not damaged. It sits quite high off the street level. Funny you mention the Grant Wood exhibit. It was there for a limited time only, and I can’t recall where American Gothic is typically displayed. That is the only exhibit I have gone to at the Art Museum. It was impressive. You give me a good idea, though. I should do a photoblog entry from the Grant Wood Scenic Byway. It is a series of roads that meander through the Eastern Iowa countryside. Thanks for the comments and for stopping by.

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