Guest column: A view from the River

A blanket of white covers the yards and roads of an area which three years ago gave the look of a holiday season in full swing. Homes with decorations and lights adorned many.  Chimneys expelled soft clouds of vapor into the winter sky.  Snow plows cleared the streets passing by some homes dating back into the late 1800′s and the early 1900′s.  Children making snowmen and dragging sleds to any place there was enough of an incline to “slide”.  Kitchens filled with the delicious smell of desserts and meals that warmed the heart as well as the stomach.  Could be a scene anywhere in the USA.  This time it is a piece of history that will forever be changed in six months.  Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a core neighborhood along the west side of the Cedar River 2007.

How often have I wished I could turn back time and bring this community back to life over the past two years.  I wish I had paid more attention to the homes and people that I drove past every day for over 50 years of my life.  In our hurry to get on with our lives we miss so much of our identity.  Now those neighborhoods look like the remains of a poor attempt to recover from a disaster using the designs and desires of people who neither wanted or cared to preserve an area which was the soul of the blue collar labor that built this city.

I fight back anger which fills my heart when I recall the thousands of people who stood in line at the Westdale Mall which became a makeshift city and county government offices center following the floods of June 2008.  How people were almost immediately treated as if they were responsible for the disaster in some way by the fact they had lost their homes.  It was us against them practically from the beginning.  Only we didn’t realize that.  We were under the impression that the government really was going to “help” us rebuild our lives.  Brothers and sisters remember how we waited for the okay to go home?  We were ready to rebuild our lives no matter how hard it would be.  What happened from June 13, 2008 on is a lesson to us all.  We were about to become witness to the slickest plan to take property from citizens in the recent history of Iowa.


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