Category Archives: Flood

3 days in June

We sent around this video at work.  I thought it was interesting, and frankly, it has re-energized me to work on flood projects.  I’ve gotten burnt out lately and haven’t done as much as I had hoped with flood relief, but I’m feeling renewed now and it’s time to get my town fixed up!

3 days in June


Flood 2008 update

I haven’t updated you all in a while on the flood situation here so I thought I would link to two videos you may want to watch.

Video 1

Video 2

I don’t have a lot more information.  Things have really settled down.  The people and groups that have volunteer labor available are rebuillding very quickly.  Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have access to this source.  Local companies are stepping up big time.  A couple companies have made multi-million dollar donations to flood relief.  My company has provided facilities to cook mealfor the feed the needy programs, city council meetings and a large amount of IT and disaster recovery support have been relocated to our offices.  They also allow each employee one day a month off to work on flood relief.  Last I heard they have had over 4000 hours donated, which is amazing.  Other companies are doing similar things.  It’s an amazing effort to put things back together, and an amazing response from the citizens here.

There has been a fair amount of complaining about how slow the government is responding, but I think that’s because the people are ready to get to work faster than the government is ready to assist them.  I know of very few people at this point who haven’t at least had their entire building gutted so it can begin drying.  I would say that most have been gutted for a while and the owners are just trying to line up all the money to get them rebuilt.  There are plenty of houses that are just waiting for the wrecking ball, and plenty of eager sellers, but overall most people are trying to put things back together.

The city is talking about tearing down a wide swath of houses and building parks in their place.  I’m keeping my ears on this so that when the parks are built perhaps we can get some community garden space in them.  Same goes for blocks that have had houses here and there torn down.  Those would make very valuable garden areas, I just have to get through the huge time demand on our council members and help them to see this.

Another thing, Hurrican Ike.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that my family and I went to Galveston, TX in 2006 for a vacation.  Watching the pictures of the destruction from the Hurricane it was a surreal experience to see places I had visited blown apart and destroyed.  The condo we stayed in was even shown on CNN taking wave upon wave of water as the Hurricane blew water over the seawall, across the 4 lane strip and into and against the condo buildings.  I imagine they have been flooded.  As devastating as our flood was here, they had flooding, winds, storms and total power outages.  Unbelieveable destruction.

New Flood Information

Do you remember that flood concert I mentioned we went to?  It raised $100K for flood relief.

The downtown Farmer’s Market is coming back on Aug 2nd.  That’s good news.

Public officials are saying there will be plenty of green in the buildings as they are built or rehabbed.  I’m all for that, but I hope they stay realistic and make the green improvements things that will still be good as we head down Hubbert’s Peak.  I’d hate for them to spend a fortune on something that is obsolete in 10 years.

Two Cedar Rapids Flood Stories

This story is a great story about the effort that went into saving the one remaining water well for the entire city so that the whole city wouldn’t be without water. I didn’t realize how bad it was if the water system got flooded, other than not having water.

They had a concert here this 4th of July weekend. It was called Floodstock. Anyway, it was intended to raise money for a local foundation for flood relief. My wife and I went on Sat night. It was a good time. I did my best to raise money for the foundation by drinking a large quantity of beer.

I don’t know how much money they raised, but they raised $10K by auctioning off a Neil Young autographed guitar when the winner won for $3100, told the crowd if they coughed up $3100 he would give it to the runner up and let them “win” the guitar. The crowd came up with $3100, the original owner coughed up $3100 and then the runner up gave their $3000 bid. $9200 just like that. $10 entry fee on a couple thousand people and it starts adding up. It won’t go far, but it will definitely help.

I was standing behind the camera person when they were shooting some of this footage. 🙂

Floodstock 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from Jason Kristufek on Vimeo.

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Man, tons of updates.

OK, sorry to disappear for so long but it is sooo crazy around here right now. What have I been doing?

Friday, Sat and Sunday I helped demolish the interiors of 2 houses. The houses were ripped down to the studs. Immense piles of rubbish were piled on the curbs. Have you ever used a wheelbarrow inside a house before? It’s interesting. Makes it easy to haul out the material, especially when you have a 4 ft high ramp down the front stairs. As we said while were were doing the work; if it wasn’t such a tragedy we’d say we were having a good time. We had a lot of help which helps the work go fast. I hope all the volunteers don’t burn out too fast though. This recovery will take a long time and we’ll need everyone for a long time to make it happen.

I’ve got more thoughts on the flooding, but too much other stuff going on. This is a critical time in the rehab because the houses have to be torn up and opened up to dry out to keep away all the mold and other bad things away. My sister is trying to organize a mission trip up here from AR, which would be very good for all of us.

When I wasn’t doing that I was too damn tired to do much else. Between those three days I spent about 22 hours yanking apart houses and picking up trash. Enjoyed some nice lunches which were donated by the Red Cross and area churches. I need to get on my church about why churches that are flooded can provide food but my church can’t, or hasn’t so far. I have to tell you, we hit a Mexican place Friday night with some friends (1 couple that is flooded out that we helped on Sat and Sun and our friends that they are staying with (flood victims brother)) and I have never had a beer taste so good as that night. Man, that was a good beer.

While this is going on my wife decided to paint the family room. Yeah. Really. So the house is torn apart and the room is partially done. It does look better already with trim and some primer in place, but bad timing I’d say. This weekend we might be able to get it finished. When the demolition at the houses is finished then they are left alone to dry for a while.

When I was at home I tried to keep up with the garden. The rabbit and woodchucks are eating too much stuff, so they are going to have to be removed. My wife is getting a trap and we’ll trap them and move them down to the nearby park or creek area. Things are coming along very well out there, not withstanding the rodent damages. We are being well supplied of lettuce still. The warm weather plants are growing well even though it’s been cooler than normal. When I have a few hours I’m going to get back to the garden plot and get some things planted. Specifically the long season plants of melons and squashes need to get in the ground soon. I have to worry about how contaminated the soil might be though.

Then of course one child had a stomach bug yesterday, but seems to have kicked it in one day (I wonder if it was something he ate at Grandma’s as she was sick too and he got better as soon as he starved all day). And the other child came home with critters in his hair. So massive cleaning, delousing and haircutting was undertaken last night. Oh, and it’s VBS week so that’s going on from 6:30-8:30, so both kids are up later than usual as the younger one won’t go to sleep until the older one gets home (mostly) and the older one goes to bed around 9 now instead of 8. Even though kids having critters is “normal” it still makes me feel like a failure as a parent.

Whew, I’m tired just writing that. I was able to can 7 pints and 7 half pints of strawberry jam last night. And I just found a recipe for strawberry-rhubarb jam (from the Zahn Zone) which I’ll be trying this week with some of the remaining strawberries. I’ve eaten so many strawberries lately that I think my hair has been replaced by a green stem. At least I don’t have to worry about strawberries not being available this year.

Donation Information

The donation information I promised you all is below.  Thanks for your support.

And, last but not least, please encourage your friends and family interested in helping to make a tax deductible donation to the flood relief fund established by the AEGON Transamerica Foundation.  Their donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $1 million.   Checks should be made payable to AEGON Transamerica Foundation and designated “Disaster Relief Fund”.  Donations should be mailed to Marie Swope, 4333 Edgewood Road N.E., M.S. 3430, Cedar Rapids, IA 52499.  To qualify, they must be received by September 1, 2008. 

Also, more flood pictures.

I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw

I drove through town today to help a friend clean out her basement. Well, tried, by the time I got there most of the work was already done, but we’ll be back to help her paint and drywall and other things. She was really lucky in the whole thing, her basement was flooded, mostly from sewage backup, but they had moved most items upstairs and it didn’t get above 4 ft high in her basement.

Others weren’t so lucky. As we drove across town it was just devastating site after devastating site. One after another. I was just in awe of what was going on. I’ve been thinking about this for 3 hours and I can’t even come to terms with it all. Every street is lined with crap, piled 10 ft high. Carpets and chairs and clothes and appliances. Toys and tools and all kinds of things. Already scavengers are out searching for anything with metal (which is good I guess) and it’s just awful.

I saw a semi trailer smashed up against a church.  I saw a gas tank (about the size of 2-3 SUVs) bent around a tree.  So many windows broken out.  Brick columns just obliterated.

I thought I was ready for this.  I really thought I had seen it all.  But I wasn’t ready.

Have you ever seen the curb of a house when someone gets evicted?  All their crap is piled up on the curb with total disregard to it?  That’s how this was.  Street after street after street.  As far as your eye can see down a street every house has this.  If the house doesn’t have this pile, it’s because the house has been condemned and the homeowner isn’t allowed back into it.

My friend lives a long, long way from the river.  I estimate 2-3 miles by the way the crow flies, yet she had neighbors whose houses had actual flooding from the river water.  You could see the line on the house.  Some of the houses were missing parts of their FOUNDATIONS.  Concrete block, or brick, foundations were just wiped out.  Gone.  Huge gaping holes in them.  And this was 2-3 miles from the river.  Easily.  At least that far away.  How hard was that river moving when it hit those areas?  Even today the current in the river was moving.  I wouldn’t want to fall into it.

We drove by the church with our experimental garden in it.  It was gone.  I figured it would be there just with dead plants.  No.  Gone.  The beds were made from 2x4s and they were 4 ft x 4 ft.  Gone.  No trace of them.  In fact they were using that spot for cushions from the pews.  I wasn’t expecting that.

I have a whole new appreciation for the power of a flood.

I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but tomorrow I’m going to put up some information here about where to send a donation.  My employer has offered to match any donation made to their foundation for the relief effort dollar for dollar up to $1M.  Previously for Katrina and the Tsunami they’ve easily achieved this goal.  I’m sure they will this time too.  If you wish to donate you can go this way and your money will count twice.  Once for the dollar you give and once for the dollar they give to match your donation.

(Please note, I have nothing to do with this effort other than providing the mailing address.  You can contact the Red Cross or another organization too.  I’m simply trying to figure out how to get more from what you donate.)

Before tonight I underestimated the impact of all this flooding.  Tomorrow’s a new day.  It will be a different day with a different perspective.  A new understanding of what can happen very quickly.  A new day.  Tomorrow’s a new day.