Frumpfighter

Posts Tagged ‘Andy Lent

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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