Flood Recovery From a 500 Year Flood

Same mark looking towards Red Cedar River
Same mark looking towards Red Cedar River

I’ve been continuing to go back through my most popular posts and update them and republish them and I’ve just made my way down to the first post I made about the Flood of 2008 which inundated both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa where I live and work. This is another post that looking back on it now,  I realize it really wouldn’t update very well, so I decided it was time for a round up and another check in instead.  The original post still holds the record for the number of hits to a single post on my blog in one day while people were searching for information.


The after affects of the flood are still with us. Many buildings, businesses, and government agencies have been rebuilt and are now open again. In other places, especially the residential neighborhoods, it’s beginning to become clear that things aren’t going to come back. Many houses have been purchased by the city and have been demolished although you still get occasional reports where a house in the flood plain caught fire (a common event for awhile), many areas are now just empty instead of looking like a war zone. Arguments between the public and various government agencies have delayed rebuilding and flood wall construction and flood protection projects have caused ongoing problems where they have been built. Some places like the Paramont Theater have bounced back remarkably unharmed. Others like Hancher Theater and the National Czech and Slovak Library and Museum have been permanently moved and changed. Ushers Ferry, the historic village where I used to work, was especially hard hit. They lost many of their buildings and have refocused on smaller events and interactions, some very creative (like Zombie Apocolypse Survivor Camp), but much more focused on revenue generation than recreating and preserving a town. Effects both good and bad have been blamed on the flood, some with reason, some without. There are a lot of questions about how things were handled, especially as the city seems to be doubling down its bet on a casino that will likely never be built. We lost a lot in the flood, some individuals more than others, but we’re still here. This summer a hard rain came through causing some flooding and some continuing road closures, but nothing like 2008, even though it made everybody nervous as every hard rain is likely to for some years to come.

Blog Post Roundup

Below is a round up of my blog posts about the Great Iowa Flood of 2008. I left two out because of broken links. The information left in those two posts can be summed up that the following year the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art hosted an exhibit of flood and flood recovery photos and the conservation lab at the University of Iowa had put together some helpful videos that were hosted on the Gazette website for awhile.

Flood Update:

Flood Update 2:

Flood 2008 Damage:

Flood Recovery Information:

Cedar Rapids Public Library Flood Update:

Flood of 2008 6 Month Update:

2010 Update on Flood of 2008:

Other Sources of Information

Find information about the Flood of 2008 from other sources.

Statistics of Flood:

Although it looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2013, this looks like a good start page if you want to learn more details about the flood recovery:

2008 Flood Coverage New York Times:

2013 5 Year Anniversary Coverage New York Times:

Advice What have we learned?

-Move stuff out don’t just sandbag.
-Make copies of things and share with relatives so no single copies of family photos, etc. will be lost.
-Don’t rent bank boxes below ground level. Some of the banks around here (including at least one flooded out) say contents are not insured on their safety deposit leases. Double check yours now.
-Don’t assume that the highest flood you can remember means that the highest flood there has ever been or ever will be.
-Realize that a 500 year flood won’t come every year.
-Don’t get too distracted with pretty, projects you think you can put your name on for government recovery.
-Even if everything works out exactly right, it will still be a long hard fought battle back and somethings are gone for good no matter how badly you wish otherwise.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.



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Sarah Uthoff - Trundlebed Tales

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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