Cedar Rapids Public Library said to be under water

A forwarded email from a librarian who now lives in Cedar Rapids, IA, indicates that the Cedar Rapids Public Library is under about 8 ft. of water. In addition to the library, other cultural institutions that have sustained serious damage include the children's museum, the Afro-American Museum, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum. A video of various flooded areas in Cedar Rapids shows the library submerged (around 6:30 in the vid).


Picture One
Picture Two
Picture Three
Picture Four (Library)

OK, it isn't 8 feet of water. (At least, not in the video.) 2- 2.5 feet max. If they have any elevation at all, they should be OK. (When it rains in Vegas, it floods.)


The video does not show the water at the high level it ultimately reached, which was at least a full story. Much of the library's collection will be ruined, since there was not adequate warning to move it before the evacuation orders came.

This was a 500 year flood event, and the devastation here is almost inconceivable. Over 400 blocks of the city were under water. Over 4000 homes are uninhabitable -- 24,000 people (20% of our population!) have been displaced. Hundreds of businesses have been destroyed, and most of our cultural institutions and historic areas are severely damaged.

The current was moving through our city streets at a rate of 20,000 cubic feet per second for several days. The water is heavily contaminated with sewage, oil, gasoline, toxic chemicals, pesticides, glass, asbestos and silt -- the first floor of every building in our downtown area is now full of that stuff.

In Iowa right now, 83 of our 99 counties have been declared disaster areas. Many small towns and cities in eastern Iowa have almost been wiped off the map. Total damage estimates for the state are in the billions of dollars.

I was joking with my husband that that's what they get for not hiring me back in 2003 but it really is just very sad. The Czech & Slovak museum especially (which did hire me!!) is going to be quite tragic. Their library had some real treasures in it and I hope they were able to save as much as possible. I hear University of Iowa libraries are evacuating today in anticipation of flooding. I can't even imagine how hard it'd be to know your library's going to flood and trying to decide what to save in the short time you have.

Czech & Slovak Museum picture

I have used the Cedar Rapids Public Library since I was a child. I had just checked out materials and will keep them safe until its time. The photo of the library underwater is very upsetting and impresses upon me how much more work we have to do to get our library and downtown back.

I'm very saddened by the horrific flooding of Cedar Rapids--my parents, my sister and her family have lost their homes as well as hundreds of others. The losses compound because the library is in this state as well as other cultural institutions in the city.

To see more on the flood, visit www.kcrg.com or www.gazetteonline.com

Our thoughts and prayers are with the library employees, as I know this loss will effect them more than anyone can imagine.

I was a patron of the CRPL for 20 years and a volunteer for 10. I loved that place.

I don't even want to see photos of the aftermath.

The devistation in Cedar Rapids is incomprehensible to me as I'm sure it is to most people. Although I moved away a few years ago, Cedar Rapids will always be my heart and my home.

I feel the need to express my feelings about the library in particular. Cedar Rapids had an extraordinary and uncomparable library collection and staff. I've traveled many places and now live in the DC area but I've never been in a library that comes close to this one.

The library was my salvation. It educated me and shared the world with me in so many ways. The collections were so impressive and worldly. I give full credit to Jerry and the other dedicated staff who selected these materials. They were open-minded and forward thinking and I will always be indebted to them for exposing me, my family and so many other patrons to other ideas, cultures, and just KNOWLEDGE. This is the greatest gift a library has to offer and thanks to the staff, this goal was achieved.

Though the collections are gone, and I, along with many others will grieve the loss of the physical books, journals, cds, dvds and other media, the knowledge they provided will live on and will continue to be shared, by us, in the years to come, as we live our own lives.

I don't know how else to express it or make sense of it. I just want to say thank you to Cedar Rapids for all you represent. For being open minded enough to nominate Barack Obama...I feel such pride in my city and state. And thank you to the library and the staff, for truly making me who I am today, probably more so than any other institution. I'm sure I speak for many others as well. My heart and prayers are with you now.

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