Anniversary of Cedar Rapids’ 2nd-Largest Flood Nearing [VIDEO/PHOTOS]
I still remember the feeling in my stomach on the afternoon of September 22, 2016 during the first press conference about an impending flood for Cedar Rapids. The event at City Hall was a somber one. The heavy rain to the north was catching up to us and I could see the fear on the faces of some of the leaders of our city that day. After being here during the flood of 2008, we couldn't do it again. Financially, but perhaps more important, emotionally.
After two days of press conferences downtown, the daily updates were moved to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, as preparations continued downtown for what was expected to be the second-highest crest in the history of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids. Downtown Cedar Rapids would eventually be part of a mandatory evacuation. We were allowed into the radio station because of our need to service the community with information. During that evacuation, I wrote about how working downtown was like working in a ghost town.
The Iowa National Guard was stationed at checkpoints around the flood zone, keeping people out. I shot this video just before the forecast crest. As you'll notice, despite it being mid-afternoon that day, no one was around. It was an eerie feeling, but I was proud of our community that day too. As I shot the video, I recognized all the work that had been done by so many. People who didn't sandbag in preparation, I feel like, were in the minority. Damn that river, we were going to win this time. And, we did.
Tuesday, September 27: The day the river crested in Cedar Rapids at 21.97 feet, second only to the 31.12 foot crest on June 13, 2008. Photos from that day from atop our building (Plaza 425 at 425 2nd St SE) in downtown Cedar Rapids showed a great amount of flooding, but a much more positive picture from eight years before.
Yes, the flood of 2016 put another scare into us but the city's preparations were able to keep most of the city dry. Regrettably, not the entire city, but most.
Work on permanent flood protection for Cedar Rapids continues. Just take a drive into the NewBo neighborhood some day and see the scope of the work going on. Unfortunately, it's a massive undertaking to protect our entire city... one that will take years and years. Until then we'll continue to hold our breath and, when necessary, work our butts off all over again to protect this city we love so much.