Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Riddance to 2008

Say so long to 2008, and good riddance. This was a tough year for Eastern Iowa.

We had a near record snowfall in the winter that shutdown my home town for too many weekends. (Read – it's hard to do business when the customer can't physically get to your store.)

Then in late May, a tornado all but wiped out Parkersburg. My wife knows the Methodist pastor there and we were gearing up to help them out. I'm afraid their plight has been all but forgotten after the floods. But not entirely – here is an excellent site that will tell you what happened that Spring day and how they are recovering.


Please don't forget these people.

Like I said, the Rev and I were gearing up to help out in Parkersburg when the rains came in June. And man did it rain. And then it rained some more. There was nowhere for the water to go but into the creeks and the streams and eventually into the Cedar River. On June 11th the river started to overflow. But it didn't stop raining. On the 12th we had an historic flood on our hands. And then it rained again. Finally on June 13th the river crested at 31 ½ feet. The Cedar River had risen to the highest level it have ever been in the recorded history of our city – and then it added a flood on top of that.

I posted a few times during those days and even was able to put up a few pictures so I don't need to say anymore. We are recovering and getting back in business. Downtown is coming back, albeit slowly. The Rev has been busy with coordinating - first clean up resources and now mission teams. This on top of her regular duties as a pastor in a large church. I guess what I am saying is that his has been a tough year.

My world has changed. I don't play much poker anymore. Partly because I just don't have the free time that I used to have – but also I guess my interests have changed. I see that this is happening to others as well. I used to be a “mod” on a poker website but the founder of that site grew tired of poker and it doesn't even exist anymore. I”m sure that on-line poker will still be a popular activity and I will play upon occasion but it just isn't a big part of my life anymore.

I'm not sure what the coming year will have in store for me. But I hope it is a little calmer and less disrupted than 2008. Here is hoping we can return to the normal chaos called life.

I will continue to post here and for now I will keep the name. I still think it fits as a brief description of a casual gathering place to tell the story of my life. And know as always that I bid you. . .


Friday, December 19, 2008

Wow - It's been too long

Wow. I see I haven't posted since just before we reopened. I guess you could say I have been busy.

Let me try to bring you up to date – at least the short version.

We did reopen August 2nd. Th first floor was vacant but at least it was clean and safe. We had a simple table where we could greet customers and then we asked them to go upstairs into the rest of the building. We had no elevator service to the upper floors for the first couple of weeks so my staff and our customers had to use the stairs. We all got some serious exercise.

We had a tremendous response to our reopening. I had my staff up on second floor discussing how we were going to be able to work the floors before we opened. About 10 minutes before opening time, I got a call from another manager who was stationed downstairs at the door. He said it was time – we had a crowd at the doors waiting to get in. It was amazing. Admittedly, many of those people were just wanting to see what had happened and how we were doing, but many people bought that day and many of the others have come back since that day.

That first month we ran our department with very limited resources. We had one computer for all three floors. That was the one on my desk. That is all we had to look up stock, check open orders, order what we had sold and all of the varied taskS involved with selling furniture and ordering it in so we could get it delivered.

We are still rebuilding but it gets better every day. The elevator is still finicky but works most of the time. We now have computers on all of the floors. And we have moved into about half of the first floor. Business has been encouraging. Despite the “downturn” in the economy, we have maintained our sales pace and are doing well.

It will be at least a year before we have recovered from the physical damage of the flood. We may never return to the basement. The rest of the first floor is still a work in progress. Our Operations Manager has done a wonderful job of getting us back in the game. The water didn't just destroy the basement and first floors – it also wiped out the phone system, the computer network, the elevators, all of the infrastructure systems that we tend to take for granted until we don't have them anymore.

There is so much to talk about and so many stories have come out of this experience. I wish now, that I had taken the time to document them but it just didn't happen. I will post some more as time permits.

This has been a tough year for many of us around here. I hope that 2009 brings us all better times. I wish you all a merry Christmas and as always . . .