By Lynda Waddington 6/11/10 7:01 AM
When politicians and government officials discuss the continued plight of flooded-ravaged Cedar Rapids, one particular phrase is heard again and again: “We’ve made progress, but there is a lot that remains to be done.”
While such words are true, they don’t tell the entire story.
There is no denying that there have been significant strides toward normalcy. But alluding to “what remains to be done” as an afterthought glosses over the hurt, frustration and literal nightmares that continue to plague those hardest hit by the natural disaster.
News outlets, including this one, have done a good job recording the process of recovery in Cedar Rapids. They have documented volunteer groups coming into the area to restore housing or create new living spaces; promoted businesses that have reopened, and sent out calls of help for those that faltered; documented public officials as they placed cathartic flowers into the Cedar River; and bolstered individuals who have suffered immensely or who went above and beyond to help others.
Perhaps the media have done too good a job.
It is easy for those who do not drive the streets of the Time Check, Czech Village or any number of Cedar Rapids neighborhoods on a frequent basis to see a photograph of a flood-damaged home on the evening news or in the paper and somewhat dismiss it as an exception or a novelty. Even those in the Cedar Rapids metro can become desensitized to the scenes so that they no longer connect the abandoned structures to the people that once inhabited them. There is a sense outside of the corridor that perhaps journalists are “cherry picking” the worst of the damage for public viewing, or that maybe file photos from a year or more ago are being reused.
It is time for such all such misconceptions to end.
“The group of people that were hit by this flood were the type of people you’d want to always be friends with,” said Linda Seger, one of the thousands of Cedar Rapids residents who are still adjusting to life post-flood. “[They were] nice, descent, hard-working, blue-collar, mid-America people who gave their souls & worked hard all their lives. We stood in line for hours and hours and there was never any pushing or shoving or fighting. In the beginning, before other people began coming in from other areas, there was no looting and people helped people.
“Initially, it was a honeymoon period of sorts, because we were all kind of sheltered under everyone’s wings. But then reality hit. We had nothing left, and yet we were forced to make life-altering decisions.”
If there can be such a thing as a fortunate flood victim, Seger is one. She and her husband were able to utilize personal savings and retirement funds to begin rebuilding their home on the northwest side. In time, they were also provided Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to help with the project. Although they still know the day-to-day frustrations of battling post-flood bureaucracy, they also understand from discussions with neighbors and former neighbors how fortunate they are to be back in their home — even if doing so drained their assets.
Below are four links to photo galleries, organized by neighborhood. All the photographs were taken within the past week, and despite their volume, provide glimpses of what exists in only four distinct areas of the city. Even if not a definitive resource for every neighborhood and every structure within those neighborhoods, the galleries should help readers quantify what politicians or public officials mean when they say “much remains to be done.”
Here's some selected pictures from the links:
Just like in residential areas, there are often old notices that remain on doors. Many of them have been in the sun so long that the ink has been bleached.
This picture broke my heart.
Time Check (the hardest hit neighborhood):