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