MISE EN SCENE: Cedar Falls Flood Damage

flood damage #8

Originally uploaded by rpcvcar

By Citizen Journalist Joe McCright

On Monday I returned to my home state, Iowa, for the first time since the June floods and I found a state with many scars.

We drove through a neighborhood in Cedar Falls, not far from the Cedar River, and found dozens of homes with waterlines up to or above the front windows and sheets of paper attached to the front door – notices to the occupants that the house is not habitable. There was a home with a van in the front yard. The van’s front axle was lodged into the soil – likely brought there by rapidly flowing flood waters.

Another house had a camper that would normally fit into the back of a pick-up truck. The water had left it torn apart in someone’s yard. The van was covered with dirt – the same gray, ashen dirt that filled many yards.

Two now empty grain elevators had bottom sections of aluminum wall missing. My sister explained that the elevator had flooded and tons of grain had spoiled. When it did the stench was horrific. It must have been doubly bad to Iowans who rely on agriculture for a large part of the state’s economy.

I saw no human activity in this neighborhood. No traffic. No pedestrians. No pets or people walking pets. No laundry drying on clotheslines. No functioning vehicles in driveways. It was like a ghost town

In Bremer County, just north of Cedar Falls, I read a notice that residents could file for disaster relief for some time. On the radio I heard an announcement that residents could secure housing in FEMA trailers.

Driving back to the Cedar Falls area we stopped to buy sweet corn from a roadside vendor/farmer. He explained to us that he’d be selling corn much later this year because the corn is so far behind schedule. His fingers showing a space of six inches, he showed me how short the latest planted corn was. Iowans normally say corn ought to be ‘knee-high by the Fourth of July’. He was glad to have corn to sell.


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