Flood Recovery Information

Where to go to get information about flood damage and recovery:

Health Concerns http://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/floodrecovery

Business Concerns http://www.cedarrapids.org/businessrecovery.asp

Damaged Posessions and Artifacts

Find a short drying tip sheet and links to suppliers on the ICPC main page

Specific information for recent floods:

State Centralized Information Page http://www.flood2008.iowa.gov/

List of where businesses have moved to: http://www.corridorrecovery.org/


Flood 2008 Damage Update

The biggest problem we’ve had to deal with so far was the feeling of utter exhaustion and helplessness as you see places you’ve been in, dealt with, and driven by your entire life are unwater and ruined. The water seems to have gone down about 5 feet on the Ely Road judging by the brown kill of the trees and bushes, but is still near the bottom of the road grade in spots (that is horizontally, not vertically). Two roads I drive by had water over them yet and one of them (one that a bunch a tax money had gone into making flood proof) was still near the roof of the shed along it.

Here are some reports I have picked up:

This is the State Library of Iowa report on libraries that were damaged.
I wanted especially to promote where you can donate if you’d like to help these devastated institutions get back on their feet.
Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation
500 First Street Southeast
Cedar Rapids, IA. 52401

Friends of New Hartford Public Library
P O Box 292
New Hartford, IA. 50660

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
30 Sixteenth Avenue Southwest
Cedar Rapids, IA. 52401-5904

 Some of the things I had hoped were beyond the water still sustained damage. Some of these things are my words, some snippets are from other sources.

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art suffered over $250,000 worth of damage and the water didn’t really get any further than the basement, most of the art, including the Grant Wood and Marvin Cone pieces were moved upstairs. They hope to get the first floor open again by Labor Day, the Grant Wood studio (in its original location and only restored in the last couple of years) by mid-July, but the second floor where the entire collection is now stored will take longer to get back to public viewing space.

The University of Iowa arts campus is still having trouble with water and classes have been moved. At least Clapp and the Voxman Musuic building will be closed in the fall.  This is an area that floods to some extent almost every year and yet the University keeps building there. It was considerably higher this year than normal.

The Paramount had been recently renovated again. Most of the furniture had been moved to the second floor. The theater’s front doors were knocked over by the force of floodwaters. The Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, installed when the theater opened in 1928, was tipped over and in pieces. It will have to be rebuilt or replaced. These organs haven’t been built since 1932.

Ushers Ferry reports that water came up to the roof of the hotel’s porch, rose about 4 feet inside the shoolhouse and came up to the new Visitors Center, but not inside. On a side note I was in the school taking a last few photos for my school lunch program the Monday before the flood. 4 feet would have basically wipe out most of the school collection. I doubt much was removed because they were thinking a shallow surround of this level of buildings (as the village climbs the hill). There was water in all but about 3 of the 30 buildings in the village. The log cabin was washed downstream and the Grandfather’s barn was knocked off its foundation. Many artifacts were removed from the lower end of the village where flooding was expected. They are still debating whether anything will be rebuilt there or not. Although there are some positive signs that they are not giving up on it yet.

 The following message is a little over a week old, but I think a good damage report.
First, I want to thank everyone for your prayers and concern about the African American Museum of Iowa. The Museum has taken a tremendous hit from the flooding on the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. The Museum took every precaution it could to safeguard its collection, and as a result, a number of historic treasures have been saved. The Museum has implemented its disaster plan, and will continue to implement the plan as events unfold.

Second, I ask that at this time you please do not attempt to call the Museum. The Museum has lost telephone service and electricity. We have cancelled events through next Thursday, including the Museum’s Legacy Golf Classic. We are hoping to have our annual Juneteenth Celebration–more word will follow. Please do not attempt to visit the Museum or view the flood damage–it is just not possible or safe.

Third, please remember that a Museum is more than a building. The Museum has built an incredible community of friends throughout the state of Iowa, and we will continue to work to preserve and promote the African American heritage of our state. If you would like to support our clean-up efforts–it is impossible at this time to know how much will be needed, but we know we will need tremendous support–please visit our website, www.blackiowa.org to make an online donation. We appreciate all of you and we want you to know that we will continue to accomplish our mission–no disaster can dampen our passion to preserve our past to enlighten our future.”

 Find a list of all businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits damaged here:

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.

First Ladies of Iowa

First Ladies of Iowa – More catch up I’m afraid, but I wanted to tell you about the conference Hoover held in June about Iowa First Ladies.  Pictured at left are most of living former govenors’ wives, Mari Culver, Billie Ray and Christie Vilsack. Christie Vilsack is beloved by Iowa librarians for her work with literacy and promotion of libraries while her husband was governor. She even  had an annual party celebrating children’s literature at the governor’s mansion and had her husband dress up as a different children’s literature character each year. I still don’t know why that didn’t get more press. She also mentioned that she’s been working on getting a statue put up in Mt. Pleasant of the Arabella (Belle) Babb Mansfield of Mt. Pleasant who was the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States. Mansfield was also a professor and served on the executive committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association and served as the chair of the first Iowa statewide suffrage convention which was held in Mt. Pleasant. The statue is now in place, but I haven’t had a chance to track it down and it’s helpfully listed on the website as on the Wesleyan campus and a major street in Mt. Pleasant. Guess my next trip down I need to cruise the campus. 😉 Read more here:


UPDATE: Website is down, so I’ve updated the link to the archived version.


Anyway their perspectives were interesting. Billie Ray was the head of getting Terrace Hill (the mansion used in the movie “Cold Turkey”) into a functioning home and Governor’s Mansion with next to no budget. (At first she had to go back to their regular house and to round up plates and silverware for important dinners and even borrow some from her sister-in-law.) She also had plenty of stories of the conditions they faced. It was really impressive.

After a break (and most of the first group of speakers left), two historians took the stage talking about the two Presidential First Ladies Iowa has produced, Lou Henry Hoover and Mamie Eisenhower. They were both really interesting. I knew more about Lou Henry to begin with, so I learned more about Mamie and I will have to look up the book sometime because it sounded really interesting.

Read more about the conference here:

The best news here for Laura fans is that Hoover has started having more conference type events again. (They had one last year on Iowa baseball.) I hope this is a sign another Wilder conference is more likely than it was a couple of years ago when they had really stopped sponsoring much in the way of this type of event.

Me in the News

This was a good week for me to get in the news. I was in two separate articles this week. Neither did an especially great job of communicating what they asked me about, but they spelled my name correct. 😉 They are nice articles and I think you’ll enjoy reading them.



What Cheer Opera House

At the end of May 2008, I accomplished one of my life goals to visit an Iowa landmark, the What Cheer Opera House, for the first time. What Cheer, Iowa is now known for its opera house and the major antique sale they host on their fairgrounds 3 times a year. While there are lots restored opera houses now, What Cheer was one of the first communities to restore their opera house and still keep it up as a theater. When it was first opened it was a hot ticket and national acts such as Porter Wagoner, Lawrence Welk, and the Glen Miller band played there on a regular basis. Now it’s mostly local talent. The first few rows are wood and the back rows are padded. So bear that in mind if you’re picking a seat. It’s really a nice example of a classic opera house. One of the Iowa Heritage episodes put out by Iowa Public Television back in the 1970s was on Main Street and among other things showed a family coming to this opera house soon after it was restored in about 1973. It’s still worth a visit.

I couldn’t find a current schedule or website, but here is the contact information:

What Cheer Opera House
201 Barnes Street
What Cheer, Iowa 50268

Call 641-634-2800 for more information.

You can watch a short video of the upstairs which I didn’t get to visit on my trip.

The other thing they are really the most famous for is their flea market which is held three times a year, the first weekends of May, August, and October. It takes over the entire fairgrounds. I really enjoy their antique show/flea market. I try to get there once a year. I’ve gotten several things there I really liked including a Missouri Extension Service pamphlet that I think Laura Ingalls Wilder used to move the spring. All the steps she describes in her article are there.  Find out all about it here:


UPDATE: I updated this as part of my review of my top 10 posts of all time, but I did the edits in the body of the piece. Including adding links to the Iowa Heritage video and a YouTube video of the ballroom upstairs. I also updated the already existing links and tracked down the contact information for the What Cheer Opera House.

Sarah S. Uthoff is 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.

Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance One-Room School Workshop

The IHPA’s one-room school workshop will be held Oct. 10 and 11, 2008 in Ames, Iowa. As always, Bill Sherman has set up a jam packed schedule. While aimed mostly at people who are involved with one-room school museums, people just interested will find it interesting as well, especially the tour of school museums the second day.

Registration will cost $30 for each day. For more information or a brochure, contact:
Bill Sherman 1-800-434-2039 or wsherman@networkiowa.com
or Carole Jensen 1-515-233-2431 or HMJensen@aol.com

They have provided one motel with a conference rate and camper parking is available. 

Also, as a preview hold the first weekend of October 2009 for the workshop to be held at Independence.  I’m going to be speaking at 2009 about one-room school lunches. Stay tuned.

Brandon IA

Catching up on some delayed stuff. dsc001322I always think of Laura and the spider frying pan she describes in Little House on the Prairie when I see the advertisement for the world’s largest frying pan along I-380.

The World’s Largest Frying Pan

The town of Brandon hosts a yearly pancake breakfast for the town with a cowboy theme, hence the giant, metal skillet. You can’t see it from the Interstate. I was surprised it was on the opposite side of town from the Interstate in a park next to the Brandon community center. As much as they advertise it I would have thought they’d have had it close on. That community center partially paid for with money from the pancake breakfast.

Brandon, Iowa Today

It’s an odd town. They have some beautiful buildings including two simply gorgeous old bank buildings (now other things). The cemetery at the top of the hill is beautiful and impressive, but it is an incredibly empty town now with several important things in temporary buildings and what seems to be the most important business operating out of the now converted old high school building.

Make the Stop

There isn’t much happening in Brandon, but I think it makes a nice photo op and place to stop and stretch and an unusual Laura photo for your collection. Here’s mine!

UPDATED June 17 2017: I made a few edits to this, mostly breaking up long sentences and paragraphs. Then I added some headings and the signature block.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving 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. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.