Friday, March 27, 2009

Fargo Nearing the Crest

It looks like The Red River in the Fargo/Moorhead area will hit its crest on Sunday. The best guess right now is about 42 feet. That is 3 feet higher than the previous record and 24 feet over what is considered flood stage of 18 feet.

Here is a great video about what is happening there. INFORUM, a service of the Fargo newspaper, has created a "social network" were area residents can communicate with each other. Thousands have already evacuated the area just to be safe. But if you want to see how real people handle crisis, read this site. These people are doing it right.

I've never been to Fargo but I spent some of my "formative years" living a bit south of there in Aberdeen, SD and know what the people of this part of the country are like. They are hard working people, what we used to call "salt of the earth" when I was younger.

Please pray for these people and the others downstream (up stream?, after all this river does flow north.) They are going to need God's help as well as their own.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fargo getting hit again

Pray for the people around the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota. The flood waters are coming again. They were hit hard in 1997 and have been a model for us in Cedar Rapids on how to recover from a devastating flood. Now they are getting hit again.

The Associated Press is reporting (here) that the flood crest is expected to be higher than '97. Let's all hope and pray that this doesn't happen again.

The people of Fargo have been very helpful to us in Cedar Rapids, They have sent teams to help clean up and have shared their recovery experience with us. Now they are having to battle the river again. I know we have teams from CR already on the ground in Fargo, lending our assistance in return.

This is, of course, the thing that scares us the most here - that we could flood again. It has been 12 years for Fargo, we might be ready if we could be clear for 12 years. I know I have been watching the river behind the store this spring. We got over to 10 feet last week (flood stage is 12') but it looked so non-threatening after last spring that it was sort of a funny feeling. But I still find myself looking out the window from my office - checking out the river. I suspect it will be a long time before that concern goes away.

Let's all hope that Fargo survives this latest threat. They are good people.


Friday, March 13, 2009

I went for a drive in Timecheck

I went for a drive in the Timecheck district of Cedar Rapids today. This area was hit hardest by the flood and is having the most difficulty in coming back. Many of the homes are beyond repair and much of the area is being considered for demolition for a flood control zone. But many of these people don't know just what to do. Are they really going to be bought out? They have been saying for months that money for the buy outs is on the way but none has arrived yet. They are told to wait.

So for now here is what you see in your windshield when you drive through this district:

I also drove over to Czech Village to see how they were doing.

This area is a couple of miles downstream and is the home of the National Czech & Slovak Museum. As you can see the Museum is still boarded up. They are hoping to be able to reopen this year but we shall see.

This area has some businesses so it is coming back. A few of the shops have reopened and you can see that work is being done on more of them. This was a beautiful area full of wonderful shops, a bakery, and restaurants. I hope they will be able to bring this area back.

Well, enough of the depression activities for today. I hope your world brings you . . . PEACE.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The rebuilding continues

It has been almost 9 months since the flood and we are still waiting. Waiting for the Feds to decide if they will helps us. Waiting for the State to decide - waiting for the city to wake up and do something other than give us empty promises. Oh, there has been money coming in but very little of it goes to the people - almost all of it is going to the city to rebuild their offices. But even that isn't happening.

This story from CBS news does a pretty good job of showing what some of us are doing.

That lady is one who is rebuilding despite all of the empty promises. As those of you who read this blog know, the store where I work made that decision early and we have been open since last August. There are still not very many stores downtown. We are truly a "destination store" now.

We are continuing even though we have been told we will be torn down when the new flood control levees are built. They say they will buy us out but we have no idea when or even for sure if that will happen. We have been told that will take 5 to 8 years to decide. In the mean time we have to move on.

The only real help for the home owners has come from the churches and private sector. Many faith communities have brought in work missions to help rebuild. I know my church has invested thousands of dollars to remodel part of our church so we can better host mission teams over the next few years. This is were the real help is coming from.

I will say, we had a crew from AmeriCorp NCCC here in February doing a"spike" - helping to rebuild. I have a lot of respect for that group so I won't get on them. (I'll have to elaborate on that some time.)

We have had politicians visit but nothing much is happening. Many just do a fly-over or don't even go into the affected area to see for themselves. We get a lot of words - just like you heard in that news story - but no real help yet.

Yesterday, Cedar Rapids voted to add a 1% local option sales tax to go to rebuilding peoples homes. I hope that the money actually goes to the people that need it. And I hope that others around the country will understand that we aren't just sitting here asking to be bailed out. We are working hard - but, yes, we could use some help.

Enough of my ranting for the night. Cedar Rapids will survive. Smulekoff's has survived.

And, as always, Sunbob wishes you