Saturday, June 28, 2008

Link to flood photos

I volunteered my time this past week with the American Red Cross, Mission of Hope and Meals On Wheels assisting flood victims and the needy. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.Photo by K.S. Gollnick, taken at Sam's Club, Blairs Ferry Rd., Cedar Rapids (June 24, 2008).

Then I decided to gather my flood photos online, at least to share the shocking scenes of high water and post-flood damage with friends and family who do not live here. (I hope to add shots of people, the victims and volunteers, soon.)

Okay, so then I spent waaaay too much time putting this together. I posted over 100 photos of Cedar Rapids as well as the University of Iowa buildings where I invested the past two years of my life completing degrees in journalism and English. So please browse my flood site and let me know what you think by posting a comment here at my blog.

Also, flood-related inspirational quotes appear on my home page. Pray for the thousands of families who have been displaced and for the organizers and volunteers who are working on the front lines.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jay Leno jokes for Iowa

Jay Leno announced he will contribute all proceeds from his Wednesday and Friday night shows this week in Las Vegas to the flood recovery effort here in Iowa.

Dan Baldwin, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, estimated the flood caused about $25 million in infrastructure damage for about three dozen nonprofit organizations that were in the flood zone. Last night's show brought in about $100,000. Thanks so much, Jay!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Why the massive flood took the city by surprise"

National Weather Service meteorologist Donna Dubberke says the final answer will be the same as the answer they gave on Monday:

"It is a function of too much rain in the wrong spot again and again," Dubberke said.

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

President Bush statement on Midwest floods

President Bush commented officially on the Midwest flooding, published this morning in the local paper, the Iowa Press-Citizen.

President Bush to view flood damage

WASHINGTON—President Bush pledged housing help and other federal aid to the Midwest victims and said he would inspect flood damage in a trip to Iowa on Thursday.

Helping journalists hurt by flood

Editor & Publisher announced today the creation of the Iowa Journalists Flood Fund for local news reporters and staff who lost their homes in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City floods.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Iowa flood statistics

Deaths from flooding: 5
Evacuees: Roughly 36,000 Iowans in 11 counties, including 25,000 in Cedar Rapids.
Counties declared federal disaster areas: 24. A total of 83 counties are covered by a disaster declaration by Gov. Chet Culver.
Iowa National Guard soldiers deployed: 2,500
Sandbags: 4.8 million
Gallons of drinking water distributed: 180,930
Acres of soybeans lost: 2 million
Acres of corn lost: 1.3 million
Tillable acres of farmland under water: 16 percent of the state's 25 million acres.
Buildings flooded at the University of Iowa campus: 16

Sources: Associated Press and local news outlets.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Distaster in Iowa

By Friday night, the Cedar River hit an all-time high flood stage of nearly 33 feet above normal, breaking the old record set in 1929 by 11 feet. This flooded over 400 blocks and filled beloved businesses and buildings, including the historic Paramount Theater and the downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library where I've spent much time in browsing and research.

The water has receded remarkably in the downtown area and bridges once submerged have emerged as of this morning, but Iowa City is bracing itself for unprecedented flooding from the Iowa River between now and Tuesday. I just graduated from the University of Iowa (May 17th), so it is surreal to learn that the two buildings where I spent so much time these past two years are under threat. Video broadcasts last night showed efforts to sandbag the area and I saw the student parking lot where I parked every day is now submerged under six feet of water. This means the English & Philosophy building (EPB) is probably a total loss. It is next to the river and one floor was built below ground--I suspect the second floor is also affected.

Further up from the parking area is the Adler Journalism Building (AJB), which was completed in 2006--a beautiful facility where I spent much time completing my studies in journalism. The first floor offers a luxurious student lounge with a bank of television screens tuned to news channels around the world, and the classrooms were state-of-the-art. The offices and work space for the Daily Iowan, the award-winning student publication of the School of Journalism, also fills much of the first floor. They moved operations last week uphill to the Iowa City Gazette. Students moved as many of the books and special collections from the Main Library adjacent to the AJB building, so I hope it will not be affected but there's no way to know for sure. The freeway was closed Friday night so I cannot get to campus to help. This is very difficult for everyone connected to Iowa City and the University of Iowa.

Also, for those not familiar with the area, Cedar Rapids is just a mile or so from my home and the downtown area is about seven miles from here. The City of Marion is pumping water to Cedar Rapids to help residents with their urgent need, and we are under water restriction. FEMA arrived last week as did the American Red Cross, working with officials to assess and set up a claims process and get assistance to residents in need. As the water began to recede last night, the air became pungent with the aroma of sewage and dead fish. I think we are still in shock over the magnitude of this event which technically is not over yet. So many roads and freeways are closed that it is extremely difficult for anyone needing to get in or out of eastern Iowa.

To view photos taken of the area by me and my husband Russ, visit the flood page at my Web site.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood hero

My hero and close friend, Laurie Haldeman, saved a 95-year-old man by calling for help when she discovered him trapped by flood waters on the second floor of his home in the Edgewood area of Cedar Rapids yesterday. He had refused to leave during the mandatory evacuation order issued Tuesday. She told me she couldn't sleep Wednesday night and went to check on him Thursday morning when she discovered water filling the first floor of his home. The water, rising fast, required rescuers to arrive with a boat to remove the man with his miniature poodle. What onlookers did not know is that Laurie suffers from severe disc/nerve damage in her middle back which causes her unspeakable pain, yet she cared enough about another human being to get him help during this catastrophic flood occuring in Iowa.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Iowa Flood '08

"April showers bring
May tornados
June flooding..."

Pictures to come soon. Pictures posted here. Today my sons and I ventured out after 3 straight days of flooding in Cedar Rapids, to stock up on water, milk, bread and other essentials. While we shopped, yet another major thunderstorm erupted overhead and we drove home in axle-deep water. Fortunately, our home in Marion is on high ground (thank God!). But the water keeps coming--downtown Cedar Rapids is flooded several blocks away from the Cedar River, and Iowa City (and my beloved University of Iowa campus) is flooded along with Coralville. Roads and bridges are closed, college classes cancelled, businesses closed, postal service suspended, homes ruined, and the storms keep coming. We didn't live here in Iowa during the 1993 flood that caused 1/3 of the state of Iowa to be declared a federal disaster area, but officials say that THIS flood has broken all records including 1929 and '93. And unbelievably, the water hasn't yet peaked, and won't until next Tuesday. Calgon, take me away! No, on second thought, I'll huddle in front of my laptop with my cell phone.