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Archive for the ‘Flood of 2008’ Category

The Flood of 2008 in Vinton came full circle today with the first of 16 planned demolitions of homes damaged beyond repair.

Zach and Michelle Rogers' former home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, before its demolition Thursday, May 28.

Zach and Michelle Rogers' former home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, before its demolition Thursday, May 28.

The first to go down was 201 E. Third St., where Zach and Michelle Rogers lived for nearly a decade before it was overtaken by the Cedar River last June.

As the flood became more and more serious that fateful week, I walked the three blocks from my Vinton home (thankfully, on a hill) to the area near the river to see what the fuss was all about.

I saw the Rogerses and their neighbors sandbag their homes on Second Street as volunteers feverishly tried to protect the nearby fire station and county jail. At that point, Tuesday, June 10, there didn’t seem to be a sense of panic.  

But over the course of the next few days, everything went seriously wrong. The power plant was wiped out. The jail was destroyed. The Rogers’ house was destroyed, as well as many other houses and properties in the area.

Here’s my recollection of that week: https://frumpfighter.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/flooded-vinton-homes-set-to-be-demolished/

One of my most profound memories of the flood was when Michelle Rogers joked about me getting worker’s comp for my dirty shoes as I walked around their flood-ravished house.

This morning as I watched their home being demolished, I realized I was wearing those shoes. They were easily washed off and saved. Unfortunately, their house was not.

Workers from D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford work on the demolition of Zach and Michelle Rogerses' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, on Thursday.

Workers from D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford work on the demolition of Zach and Michelle Rogerses' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, on Thursday.

With the Benton County Courthouse in the background, demolition of homes in Vinton begins.

With the Benton County Courthouse in the background, demolition of homes in Vinton begins.

A worker with D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford takes precaution with the debris from the demolition of a flood-damaged home in Vinton.

A worker with D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford takes precaution with the debris from the demolition of a flood-damaged home in Vinton.

The area near Vinton homes slated for demolition is blocked off due to safety reasons.

The area near Vinton homes slated for demolition is blocked off due to safety reasons.

Homes along Second Street in Vinton await the fate of 201 E. Third St. - demolition.

Homes along Second Street in Vinton await the fate of 201 E. Third St. - demolition.

The Benton County Courthouse rises above in the background of the site of the first demolition in Vinton.

The Benton County Courthouse rises above in the background of the site of the first demolition in Vinton.

CEDAR RAPIDS — After the Ellis Boulevard home they were renting flooded last June, Patty Blackwell and her family camped and stayed with relatives until they were able to move back.

This disruption in their routine took its toll on the family, especially on Blackwell’s 3-year-old daughter.

“She threw temper tantrums, was non-compliant,” said Blackwell, 46. “I let her walk all over me.”

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

At her wits’ end, Blackwell enrolled her daughter in the TIES program when it first became available in Eastern Iowa in October. TIES, Teaching Interventions to Empower and Strengthen Families, is a proactive parenting program for children under 6 with mild to severe behavior problems.

What makes the program unique, according to program coordinator Craig Meskimen, is that parents and children go through the program together.

Parents are taught eight strategies focusing on positive interaction with the child. The key is telling children what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.

The eight strategies include:

  1. State expectations in advance.
  2. Catch your child being good.
  3. Limited reasonable choices.
  4. Say “when,” “then.”
  5. Plan ahead.
  6. Know what’s reasonable.
  7. Stay calm.
  8. Use neutral time.

Blackwell said her daughter is a success story of the program.

“Thank God for this place,” she said at a recent open house at the Resource Center Building on the St. Luke’s Hospital campus, 1026 A Ave. NE. 

Blackwell is in the “payback” phase of the program. Funded by a grant through Linn County Community Empowerment, the program is offered at no cost to parents. In return, parents who have completed the program with their children pay back by training new families.

Aaron Jarvis, 31, of Marion, also is a charter parent who is now in the payback program. He was referred to the program by Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

Skeptical at first, he now says he’s a firm believer in the program.

His daughter, now 4, experienced separation issues after her mother left when she was a baby. Her aggressive behavior escalated when she was 3.

“She would scream for two, three hours at a time,” Jarvis said.

He could see a difference in his daughter within three weeks of the program.

“She wanted attention and knew bad behavior worked,” he said.

But parents need to ignore the bad behavior, as long as it’s safe, he said.

“They can get the attention they want by being good.”

With his daughter’s behavior under control, things are less stressful at his house.

“Behavior problems with a child are the last thing you need with the flood and recession,” he said. “You want to be able to go out and have a good time.”

He believes in the program so much he plans to volunteer after his payback time is completed.

“It is so gratifying to see changes in other children,” he said.

He distributes fliers at preschool and day care to spread the word about the program.

The program originated in 1969 in Tennessee to treat children with Down syndrome and those on the autism spectrum. However, Meskimen said there is no minimum or maximum behavior for a child to qualify for the program.

Keith Pitts, 33, of Cedar Rapids, said 90 percent of the program is focused on changing the parent, not the child.

He and his wife, Emily, adopted three children from foster care, making the bond even more difficult from the onset.

His son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Pitts wanted to try this program before medication.

“He’s an amazingly different kid,” he said.

Ignoring the bad behavior is difficult at first for both the parent and the child, he said.

The child needs to realize that “no matter how I act out, I’m not going to get attention unless I’m being good,” Pitts explained.

Parents need to be consistent with the program’s skills or the information will not be retained, he said.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kim Petersen, 32, of Cedar Rapids, came to TIES “pulling my hair out” fighting with her husband, Kenny, about their son’s behavior problems.

“Now he’s done a 360,” she said of her son. “It’s not just us teaching him, he teaches us.”

Parents are encouraged to keep a tally of every time the child does something negative. Parents also are encouraged to be consistent with ignoring bad behavior and recognizing good behavior. 

Once the program is completed, the families take the strategies home with a written plan. Andrea Dorn, of the Abbe Center, said the home program is written in three phases. First, the TIES staff writes a home program for the parents, then the parents and staff write a program together. Finally, the parents write their own home program to fit their child’s needs.

Ernie's Pub owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Ernie's Avenue Tavern owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Staycation adventure of the week: Beer Fest at Benz and Houby Days in Czech Village.

In my attempt to keep my vacation dollars in Eastern Iowa, especially places recovering from the Flood of 2008, I stopped in at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, and Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

Both of these areas were ravaged by last June’s flood and have made tremendous strides in the past year. Seventh Street was blocked off in front 0f the refurbished Benz Beverage Depot for the benefit for the Cedar Rapids Downtown District featuring samples of more than 75 beers.

Czech Village along 16th Avenue SW has come to life over the past few months and featured vendors, food, a carnival, polka dancing and a vibrant nightlife.

Here are some photos to best describe the recovery of these areas:

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest benefitting the Downtown District on May 16.

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest on May 16.

 

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids.

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids. Beer is poured at Benz' annual Beer Fest.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village on May 16.

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village on May 16.

The mighty morel mushroom was on display durind Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend.

The mighty morel mushroom was king at Ron Takes' display during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend. Houby is the Czech word for mushroom.

During these tough economic times, people are cutting back on entertainment expenses, including travel. Instead of jetsetting across the country, people are opting for staycations closer to home.

But is that really so bad?  Sometimes we are so focused on getting away that we take for granted what’s available in our own backyard.

Next Sunday, the annual Explore section will be distributed with The Gazette. I have been this section’s editor for the past four years. This year’s edition will feature six daytrips: Amana Colonies, Decorah, McGregor-Marquette, AnamosaMonticello, MaquoketaDubuque and Galena, Ill.  As an Eastern Iowa native, I have been to most of these places, but look forward to visiting all of them this summer.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

For Mother’s Day, I met my parents Saturday at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids. The historic site was holding its annual spring plant sale. Although a little chilly, it was a beautiful day to wander around the estate. If you haven’t been to Brucemore or attended any of its events such as Classics at Brucemore (featuring “To Kill A Mockingbird” this summer), Cabaret in the Courtyard or Bluesmore, do so. It’s serene setting makes you forget about the rest of the world, even if it’s just for a few hours.

After checking out another plant sale at Corner House Gallery and Frame just down First Avenue from Brucemore, we were ready for lunch. I suggested going to Czech Village. Yes, there were other places a lot closer to First Avenue and Collins Road, but I am so impressed with Czech Village’s resilience after being devastated in last June’s flood, I wanted to support their businesses.

Although not completely rebuilt by a long shot, Czech Village has come a long way in the past 11 months. We ate at the Bohemian Café and Pub in the heart of the village on 16thAvenue. It just opened Monday; it was an antique shop pre-flood and has been renovated into a restaurant/pub/bakery featuring Czech dishes such as a pork loin sandwich topped with sautéed apples and cheddar cheese. In the future, it hopes to attract busloads of tourists visiting the museum which plans to relocate to the Music Loft building next door.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

We then went to recently reopened Sykora Bakery down the street. I hate to admit it, but that was the first time I’ve been there. There was a line, but I didn’t mind the wait for freshly baked kolaches and turnovers.

At every place we visited, the owners and employees graciously thanked us for coming to their rebuilt business that was destroyed less than a year ago. They also invited us to come back to Czech Village next weekend for Houby Days.

It was questionable whether the annual festival celebrating all things mushroom would proceed due to continued clean-up efforts in the area. But it has been decided the show will go on. I highly encourage you to attend some or all of Houby Days next weekend, May 15-17. The residents and businesses of this Eastern Iowa treasure have put their whole lives into rebuilding this area the so love. While we can’t control the weather or the river, we can ensure the vitality of Czech Village’s future by throwing our support and dollars into it.

I plan on taking all sorts of stay-cacations over the next few months. I’ll write about them and take some pictures. I invite you to share your stay-cation stories and photos here. Please e-mail me at ajh1109@mchsi.com

When the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library in southwest Cedar Rapids went under water during the historic Flood of 2008, Gail Naughton, the organization’s president and CEO, was devastated.

But then she got to work.

Gail Naughton     President/CEO Czech & Slovak Museum and Library

Gail Naughton President/CEO Czech & Slovak Museum and Library

“When you have a crisis, you need a leader who will stand up and communicate,” she told attendees at the Beyond Rubies women’s conference March 19 at Kirkwood Community College. “You have to have a strong person in front and fight. It’s been my job to lead this charge to carry this story.”

The museum had a disaster plan and it was implemented once word came that the nearby Cedar River would likely leave its banks. On June 10, 2008, furniture was moved and sandbags were placed around the immigrant home, one of five buildings owned by the museum.

The next day construction began on an earthen dam and critical library materials were removed. The museum sits more than 23 feet high and at that point workers and board members were cautious, but not worried, Naughton said.  The river was expected crest at 24 feet and Naughton was fairly confident the sandbags and levee would hold off flood waters.

Nobody could have predicted what happened overnight and Thursday, June 12 – the day of the epic surge. Pounding rain forced the Cedar well past the 24-foot stage and the river took over most of downtown, several residential areas and Czech Village.

The Gazette/The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids under several feet of water Friday, June 13, 2008.

The Gazette/The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids under several feet of water Friday, June 13, 2008.

Like most people, Naughton first saw the stunning image on television of the museum seemingly floating in the Cedar River.

“It rained all day; it was like the end of the world,” she said. “That was a pretty bad day.”

But unlike most stunned people watching TV, she had to compose herself and look toward the future.

“I called the staff and called a meeting to plan next steps,” she said “We needed to make the best decisions right away.”

The river crested at 31.3 feet on Friday, June 13, leaving 7 to 8 feet of water inside the National Museum. Naughton met that day with board members and put up a flood update page on the museum’s Web site so people from all over the world could find out what was happening. She also worked with media from the Czech Republic to get the word out.

“Before the water went down, we were working,” Naughton said. “Leadership is about stepping up, being visible and having the conviction to come out of it.”

They were allowed into building Tuesday, June 17, to assess the damage. A water line marked the pictures of the Homeland Exhibit. In the Petrie Gallery, the popular “1968” exhibit was destroyed. The force of the water was so strong, it actually bent a wall in half.

Outside, the scene was no better.

“Walking into Czech Village was like walking into a bomb site,” Naughton said.

The museum did have flood insurance for the library and artifacts collection. They were able to treat and handle artifacts immediately.

“We were more concerned to get to clean things than the damaged,” Naughton said. “The longer they sit in a wet building, the more we are concerned about mold.  We lost everything inside; the woodwork started to mold immediately, doors warped, the windows were gone.”

With all the damage and the long road ahead, there was never a question of whether or not to move forward.

“We knew instantly we would have to fight to save it,” Naughton said. “Once we had dealt with the immediate disaster, we had to keep our mission in mind and plan for the future.”

The Gazette/Petr Kolar (left) the Czech Republic's ambassador to the United States, surveys renovation progress at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library with president and CEO Gail Naughton on Oct. 29, 2008.

The Gazette/Petr Kolar (left) the Czech Republic's ambassador to the United States, surveys renovation progress at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library with president and CEO Gail Naughton on Oct. 29, 2008.

In July,  the board had an interim operating plan, which included setting up space at Lindale Mall. The board also worked with the city on a flood plan that included saving Czech Village and the museum.

“It’s a living plan, let me tell yak,” Naughton said. “There’s a lot still going on.”

Today, the main museum building is still gutted after being cleaned more than once. The heating and cooling systems have been restored enough to control the climate inside. Many of the artifacts and restored books are stored on wrapped pallets right under the chandelier in Grand Hall.

The main building will be repurposed for educational programming. “We are not going to able to do the same exhibitions as we did in the past because other museums won’t loan to us. It’s tainted,” Naughton said.

The total loss of the five buildings is between $8 million and $9 million. The price tag to come back is estimated at  $25 million.

“It’s a long, arduous, frustrating process,” Naughton said, “but we can’t afford not to save it.”

It would be easy to turn back and make everything the way it was, she said. But that would be a step back. “We need to take opportunities to make more out of this. I thought a couple of months ago that everything would be over and we would know more by now. The experience of this is something that will mark our lives and careers.”

To see The Gazette’s multimedia project about Czech Village’s recovery, go to http://ads.gazlab.com/goads/Czechvillage/czechvillage.html

So far, this March has been much more pleasant than last year’s, especially the weather. In 2008, I remember shoveling snow out of the driveway in the middle of March.

Orange placards have been placed on 16 properties in Vinton, deeming them unsafe and set for demolition.

Orange placards have been placed on 16 properties in Vinton, deeming them unsafe and set for demolition.

But Friday was perfect walking weather and so I headed down to the area in Vinton that was hit hard by last June’s flood. Something new had popped up on some of the most damaged homes since the last time I walked down there – orange placards declaring the properties were unsafe and slated for demolition.

These homes had been boarded up throughout the winter but the demolition signs really struck me, especially several on the corner of Third Street and Second Avenue.

Walls of sandbags failed to protect homes near the Cedar River in Vinton during the Flood of 2008.

Walls of sandbags failed to protect homes near the Cedar River in Vinton during the Flood of 2008.

When the floodwaters began to rise last year, I walked by the raging Cedar River and watched it overtake the fire station and creep toward downtown. After setting up 2-foot sandbag walls, the residents of the homes along Second Avenue sat on their porches and in lawn chairs and watched the efforts to protect the eventually doomed Benton County Enforcement Center across the street.   

By the next morning it was apparent any effort to protect anything in that area was for naught. National Guardsmen stood guard as driving rain made the floodwaters impossible to contain. Vinton’s electrical plant was knocked out and people were evacuated from their homes.

rogers1

Zach Rogers tries to salvage items from his flood-damaged home in Vinton on Father's Day 2008.

I had been stranded at my parents’ house in Williamsburg for several days as the roads leading into Vinton either had been washed out or were impassable. I made it back by the weekend and went to survey the damage on Father’s Day. I spoke to Zach Rogers, who just five days earlier was one of those watching the activity, feeling fairly confident the sandbag wall would protect his home from any water.

The Rogers family had lived at 201 E. Third St. for eight years and loved their home. Zach knew the home was only several blocks from the river but had heard that during the great Flood of 1993, the water had only come up to the sidewalk.

Zach Rogers' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, is now slated for demolition.

Zach Rogers' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, is now slated for demolition.

The Flood of 2008 would not be so gentle. The water ravished their basement and crept up the first floor. Zach said they got a lot of their belongings upstairs, but not enough. One of the casualties was the Rogers’ wedding pictures.

As I asked Zach questions, took pictures and looked around their house coated with mud, his wife, Michelle, told me to be careful and jokingly said she hoped workers’ comp would cover my trashed shoes. Here she was, cleaning out her destroyed belongings and she was worried about my shoes.

John Haines spends his Father's Day 200 trudging through the muck the flood left in his home in Vinton.

John Haines spends his Father's Day 2008 trudging through the muck the flood left in his home in Vinton.

Next door, John Haines was also trudging through the mud that took over his home, trying to find anything salvageable. He also moved valuable items to the second floor but lost everything, including stored treasures, in the basement. He had been trying to sell his home for three months, trying to find a larger place for him and his children. At one point in the week, the for-sale sign in the yard was underwater.

He told me the neighborhood would stick together and make it through this. But the damage was too great. A few weeks ago, more than eight months after the flood, the city put up the placards, including on Rogers’ and Haines’ homes.

John Haines' home has been marked as unsafe.

John Haines' home has been marked as unsafe.

According to Vinton City Coordinator Andy Lent, there were 16 structures deemed structurally unsound and slated for demolition. The city council will consider bids at its meeting March 12 for the demolition.

Lent said 14 of the 16 are on a buyout plan through the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Once the homes are torn down, no other homes will be allowed to be built on the lots. The Vinton Parks and Recreation Department is working on a trail system that would turn the flood plain into trails and park land.  

The trails and parks will be a nice addition to the city, especially after the area and homes have sat empty and dilapidated for nearly a year. But it won’t replace all that these families lost when the Cedar River went into a rage one week in June 2008.


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