Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Flood Observations - George

I drove through Czech Village on my way to the flood news conferences at the Cedar Rapids police station last Thursday and Friday. What an incredibgle sight. You could see the water lines on houses up to the second floor. The curbs were stacked with with ruined furniture, appliances, carpets and other household goods. People were busy emptying their houses of possessions that had been ruined.

The Jones Park golf course still has flood waters. The fairways and greens that aren't under water have been reduced to mud. There's no green at all...just black muck.

The smell. In some areas it smells like rotting garbage. In other areas it's like the odor of the ruins of a burned building that's still wet from firefighters' water. In other places it smells like a combination of the two.

Saturday I took some lunch to my son who's working on the cleanup at city hall. Downtown was humming with activity. Much more active than on a normal Saturday; but not the kind of activity you'd like to see. Again, the curbs were stacked with ruins. Many of the traffic lights are out because of a lack of electricity downtown. That turns intersections into 4-way stops. It's not something that works that well with multiple lanes, including turn lanes. It makes driving a little nerve-wracking. And it slows the flow of traffic.

At night, the sign atop Quaker Oats is back on. The radio tower on top of the Alliant Tower lights up. And the sign on the Crowne Plaze Hotel is partially lit up. Other than the portable lights set up for security, that's about it. As it gets dark, the downtown skyline pretty much becomes invisible.

And yet, when you get away from the flood area, it's pretty much life as usual -- like nothing has happened. It's like Cedar Rapids has become two different worlds. But I'm sure the ripple effects are yet to come.

George Dorman - News Director

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Flood of 2008 - George

I was planning to go to the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines last Thursday. Those plans quickly changed when it became apparent that flooding on the Cedar River was going to be much more serious than anyone anticipated. (I don't know if I could have gotten to Des Moines anyway...and, if I had, who knows if I could have made it back.)

Station Manager Dennis Green and I decided that we should do twice-hourly reports beyond our regularly scheduled morning drive newscasts. We have continued this every day since...both of us doing on-air work and updating information for the reports and on our web site. The emergency operations center has been set up at Kirkwood Community College, so the briefings were convenient for me.

My family lives several miles from the river but I checked early on to see if they were all right. Some water had come into the basement with the heavy rain and the power had gone off, then come back on. Assured that they were doing OK, I concentrated on my work.

I have not been directly impacted by the flooding. Except...

One of the my sons work for the Veterans Memorial Commission in the building that houses city hall, which sits on an island in the Cedar River and was inundated. They had been working in the days before, trying to keep water out. But the flooding was overwhelming. Two of his co-workers live in the flooded area. He goes back to work tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, helping clean up the police station.

A guy who works in a neighboring department at Kirkwood lives in Palo, which was totally evacuated and flooded.

The family of a friend of one of my sons had moved to Palo several years ago but when his mom got tired of the drive to Cedar Rapids, they moved they missed the flood.

Another son had a recording studio in a building near the flooded area. He and his partner moved their equipment to another site.

Since only one of the city's wells was functioning after the flooding and city water capacity was just 25% of normal, everyone was asked to stop taking showers, washing dishes and doing laundry and not flushing toilets with every use to conserve. Capacity is now up to 50% and the restrictions have been eased a odd/even plan based on address numbers.

I tried to leave work the first night of the flood. Interstate 380 was the only way through town. Traffic was so heavy that I turned around and went back.

I've had calls from my brothers and gotten e-mails from my son who lives in suburban Denver, a former colleague in Sioux Falls, an army buddy in California...even Ted Hasiuk who does our smooth jazz show Saturday mornings. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada, and it brought back memories for him of the Red River flood of 1997 that hit Grand Forks, ND, so hard and threatened his city.

Then there was Father's Day. I would have planned to be in church with my three sons who are in town. By late afternoon, they determined that traffic had gone down on I-380 so they showed up with two pizzas, soft drinks and a Snickers bar and spent an hour or so with their old man. It was great to see them...and it made it a good Father's Day after all.

As I drove over the river that evening, I saw all the housboats that had jammed up against the railroad bridge by Quaker Oats and all the debris stuck under the 1st Avenue Bridge by city hall.
On my way back into work Monday morning, I drove past downtown. Except for a few lights in a couple of floors of the Alliant Energy Tower and a portable light set up on one of the streets, the entire business district and surrounding flooded areas were dark. It was spooky.

I can't imagine what it must be like for those people whose homes have been heavily damaged and in some cases destroyed. It makes one thankful to only have to report on it...and not be directly involved.

George Dorman, News and Operations Director

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood Stories - Dennis

KCCK remains on the air during the flooding crisis in Cedar Rapids. While we don't have the resources for the kind of wall-to-wall coverage a full-time news station could provide, we're working hard to make sure that our listeners receive the information they will need to stay safe.

I'd like to acknowledge particularly the work of George Dorman, who has been putting in 15 hour days as our lead anchor and coordinator. Thanks also to Mark Yother, Bob Stewart, Gordon Paulsen and John Heim, who have struggled through flooded streets and bumper-bumper traffic on the few roads that remain open, to hold down their regular shifts.

Thanks to all the public safety workers, volunteers and our fellow media workers, who are doing outstanding work during this crisis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jazz Showcase Returns-Bob

After a year-and-a-half of searching for a new location, Joe and Wayne Segal are finally ready to reopen the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. That location is in the historic Dearborn Station building at 806 S. Plymouth Ct. Instead of a Tuesday-Sunday run for major artists, it'll now be a Thursday-Sunday run. They're scheduled to reopen this week with Junior Mance, followed by Monty Alexander next week and Eliane Elias the following week. It'll be nice to have another option again for live jazz in the Midwest, in addtion to the Bistro in St. Louis and the Dakota in Minneapolis. Nobody in the Windy City had really picked up the slack since the Showcase closed down. Their website is still at

Bob Stewart, Program Director

Cary J Travels Back to Jazz 88.3 - Dennis

I'm pleased to announce that Cary J. Hahn will be returning to his Sunday afternoon Big Band Memories show on KCCK. Cary's first day back will be Sunday, June 22 at 1pm.

Thanks to Murray Kent for filling in these last several weeks!