Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Iowa Flood of 2008

The Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa created a major mess in my home town. The water peaked at the 500 year flood plane and many friends who do not own flood insurance (because they lived outside of the 100 year flood plane) were flooded. I drove across the only open bridge over the river (Interstate 380.) The other roads (as you can see in the pictures) are under water. Ironically, I drove over the 1st avenue bridge about four days ago and the water was high, but not this high!

Our drinking water supply is down to one active pump for the city because the other pumps were flooded out. This means that the city will be running out of water by this Monday or Tuesday. Our two neighbor cities, Hiawatha and Marion are pumping water from their cities via fire-truck into our city water grid. I spoke with one of the Marion Firemen who was pumping water, and he said that Marion was giving Cedar Rapids 4,000,000 gallons a day and it was not going to keep up with the demand. It sounded like the other pumps will not come online for at least three weeks. We are saving our "gray water" from the dehumidifier to flush toilets. Right now we use water very sparingly, but when the water is shut off, I'll tell you how it really feels to be in this situation.

The radio at my house has been very active. Almost no HF, all VHF and the Police scanner. The VHF amateur nets have been active constantly, but are showing signs of slowing down. Now that everyone has been rescued and are in shelters, there is not much to do besides wait for the water to go down. The Police lost their main trunking system and had to go to a backup. It was interesting to listen to the traffic but they did an excellent job dealing with the situation.

I had the 2 meter radio on doing homework and hear a call at midnight this week that they needed urgent sandbagging help at one of our local hospitals and they ran out of sandbag ties. I called in and said I had bailing twine and wire wraps. They told me where to go and in 10 minutes, I was throwing sandbags. I estimated I threw 300-500 bags, and at times was in water 2 1/2 feet deep. It felt very good to be able to help. They did evacuate the hospital which was very interesting to see. There were ambulances from all over Iowa that came to help with the patient move.

I had a very strange emotional event happen that night that I don't think ever happened to me before. The ambulances were waiting in a long line to pick up the patients for transport. While waiting, the paramedics were watching us throw sandbags. You could tell that they were a bit shocked at the sight, but at the same time, were amazed at all of the people helping out in the middle of the night. We, helping sandbag the hospital were reading all of the different hospital/city/county names painted on the ambulances and could only think that these people cared enough that they would drive from miles away to help those of us in need. I can only hope that the rest of you get to experience this kind of "love for your fellow man" yourself.

Notice the blue barrel floating down the river? The center buildings you see are our city government buildings. When there is not flood water, these building are on an island that is perhaps 15-20' above the river.
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Yes, your cereal used to come from here. Quaker had to shut down because they were flooded.

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My brother and I found a street that had the water recessed. I noticed this fresh spray paint, and it looks like it meant High Water point or something like that.

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I helped to build this sandbag wall.

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It's hard to see but there is a blue boat that is partially submerged.

1 comment:

Harry said...

Awesome pictures of the Iowa floods

Really like your blog

73, Harry
W9HGO -SKCC #4647