Cedar Rapids launches national campaign for flood recovery help - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids launches national campaign for flood recovery help

by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Last spring's flood forever changed the lives of many Eastern Iowa families.  Almost a year later, thousands of residents are struggling to rebuild.

A group of people from Cedar Rapids have set up a website to tell their stories looking for national attention.

Bu it's much more than a website. Media kits are being sent across the country inside of a Quaker Oats tube. Among the contents, a video on a flash drive, a brochure, even milk and a Quaker Oats granola bar. It's all to help Cedar Rapids stand out.

"When the water receded, so did the CNN trucks," campaign contributor Jen Neumann said.

Houses still sit empty. Rubble remains in yards. Almost a year later, a city feels forgotten.

"They totally forgot about Cedar Rapids and we got pushed on the backburner because there was other things that came up in the meantime so they kind of forgot about us," flood victim Cindy Koppenhaver said.

That's why a team of marketing, communication and media professionals formed in February to remind the country that Cedar Rapids still needs help.

"If we don't stand up and tell our story, who's gonna do it? We're gonna do it," City of Cedar Rapids communications liaison Cassie Willis said.

"It's not that we had a poor response by the government at the time," Neumann said. "It's a matter of getting those dollars here now and to continue that flow of dollars here because we are so far away from recovery."

With a message emphasizing Cedar Rapids has suffered a disaster in the billions and received funding in the millions, fifty media kits are in the mail, headed to the likes of Newsweek, Time and 60 Minutes.

"If there's any way we can get national attention which would drive perhaps President Obama or some of our congressional representatives to consider giving us a little bit more money to help us out, we'll take it," Willis said.

Robin Cooper is one of the fortunate ones. With help from FEMA and Jumpstart, he was back in a home by September. But he knows plenty of others haven't been as lucky. And he hopes this creative way of spreading the word will stir some action.

"I think it'll get some attention, maybe not the attention we totally need, but it'll get some attention," Cooper said.  "It's a start."

"I think anything that's unique like this could probably work and get somebody to look at it instead of putting it in the circular file," Koppenhaver said.

All the materials in the media kits came from donations.

The committee admits this is just step one. In fact, they met Wednesday to talk about how to close the deal with the help of follow-up phone calls and e-mails.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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