I realize that I have been stuck in flood mode for over a month now but it has been such a community-altering event that I just feel the need to talk about it. Tuesday night, Dan and I went down to one of the neighborhoods that was affected by the flood. The dicotomy between living and dead was so pronounced that it was the first thing I noticed. The neighborhood was deathly quiet. There were no people, no cars, no activity except for the occasional homeowner carting his/her house piece by piece to the curb. Some houses were wide open in an attempt to dry out but the majority of them were still shut tightly. It was clear that some of the owners hadn't returned to their houses at all. I was almost afraid that if I opened the front door of one of those houses, water would come pouring out closely followed by the overwhelming stench of decay. As it was, the neighborhood smelled like a swamp. At one point, I was afraid that I would get a flat tire just driving down the road toward our destination due to the debris in the street. After noticing the lack of human presence, the next thing I noticed was all the flowers blooming. Daylilies and asiatic lilies were all over the place, the trees and grass seemed to be a darker green, and of course, weeds were growing like crazy. There was definately something else in the river than just water.
I have also been watching with interest how the businesses along the river in Coralville are going to recover. There are a few that have already relocated and some that I think will be closed down permanantly but clean-up is underway. The amount of mud left in parking lots is amazing. The University track field and Baseball and Softball fields were completely destroyed. There was still standing water on one of the softball fields at the beginning of this week. It is now gone but now there is nothing left. There were about 20 people in the parking lot of the ball fields yesterday morning just shoveling dirt off the concrete. When I went home last night, there were piles of dirt about 2 feet high every 3 or so feet all over the parking lot. Back across the road, a strip mall has been completely gutted and may end up having to come down since the water pushed part of the building off its foundation.
The good news is that the river is officially back within its banks. However, residents along the river have been told not to take their sandbags down yet. We have had two heavy thunderstorms this week. A city along the river about 70 miles away got 8 inches of rain the other day.
We are actually very blessed down here in Iowa City. Cedar Rapids got hit so hard that the city of Cedar Rapids is estimating that the flood did nearly 8 billion dollars in damage. Over 1200 city blocks were under water. What a catastophe.
The University of Iowa estimates that the flood did about 250 million dollars in damage to University property. The worst damage was done (over $40 million) was done to the Advanced Tech building and that was closely followed by the art campus including the Iowa Museum of Art.
It will be interesting to see how this will affect our local economy and how the community will continue to handle the aftermath.