The message was clear at Thursday morning's press conference. It's time to begin the clean up phase and the city is asking citizens to help in two more ways.

The Cedar Rapids community responded in a huge way as the city prepared for the flood. Now, the city is asking citizens to help in the cleanup effort. If you're able to volunteer to help area businesses and/or citizens move back into their businesses and homes, you can register as a volunteer through the United Way at (319) 739-4211 or by calling 211.

It was also announced this morning that Thursday night will be the final night of the curfew. It will be lifted at 7 a.m. Friday. Businesses and residents will be able to return to the flood evacuation area at noon Friday. Those areas will open to the general public again Saturday morning at 7.

Disposal of residential sandbags will begin Friday morning at 7. That's when a drop-off site will open at Noelridge Park (off 42nd St. northeast). Another drop-off site will open at 7 a.m. Saturday by the tennis courts at Ellis Park. The locations will accept both wet and dry sandbags. Sandbag disposal for businesses was announced earlier in the morning.

We also learned the downtown bridges have been inspected and will be reopening soon. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 8th Avenue bridges will open Friday, September 30 but access will initially be restricted to business and property owners. The Edgewood Road bridge opened just after 5 p.m. today (Thursday, September 29).

Finally, Mayor Ron Corbett had three messages. First, he saluted Public Workers Director Jen Winter. She's been at the forefront of the city's flood protection efforts this past week. Corbett's praise of Jen was well-deserved and clearly appreciated by Winter, the first woman to ever hold that position in the history of Cedar Rapids. After returning to her seat, she shed a few tears. Who can blame her? It may be overstating it to say the weight of the entire community was on her shoulders, but she undoubtedly felt it.

The mayor then named many of the city's largest employers by name as he reassured them Cedar Rapids is the place they want to be, while also letting them know how important they are to our community. Corbett spoke to them directly, saying "Please don't lose faith in us. Please continue to stand with us to build Cedar Rapids."

Finally, Corbett then asked citizens of Cedar Rapids to support the businesses who've been closed, some for an entire week. One of his main messages was 'returning the vibe,' as he called it, to many of the areas in the evacuation zone. Corbett had one challenge for most of the city and a separate, greater ask, of the bicycling community.

You can view the entire press conference here:

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