Friday, June 13, 2008


I drove three hours to help move some of my family’s stuff, because it’s gone if the levee breaks. We can pretend everything is going to be OK, but we look at the river stage forecasts and become more certain each day something ugly is about to happen.

I remember a fellow in this river town once saying, “The water goes where it wants to go, and there’s not a hell of a lot you can do to stop it.” But people, many of whom live on high ground, pitch in, bless them. They show up with shovels to fill and lug sand-bags, working for hours knowing it might not do a bit of good.

I mean, how do you control a river that wipes out a bridge lined with 20 railroad cars, all of them loaded with rocks? The idea was for the weight to give added strength and stability to the bridge. The train and the bridge in Cedar Rapids never had a chance. The whole works went into the Cedar River.

By noon Thursday, 100 city blocks of Cedar Rapids were under water, along with thousands of people’s homes.


The Coralville dam is releasing 20,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Iowa River. It’s heading through the heart of Iowa City and points south. The Cedar Rapids Gazette quoted an expert of some sort who said that at that rate, the water would fill an enclosed Kinnick Stadium in 16 minutes and 42 seconds. Ponder that when you think about the fact that around 40,000 cubic feet of water a second is coming down the Des Moines River from the Saylorville dam into Des Moines.

That presumably would fill the Hawkeye stadium in 8 minutes and 21 seconds.Another expert — there are a lot of experts around these days — said the comparatively small Cedar River is now flowing at a volume equal to the Mississippi River when the Mississippi is at flood stage. Gives some perspective, doesn’t it?


At this point, there’s nothing left to do but wait.

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