Usher's Ferry historic village open to public again - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Usher's Ferry historic village open to public again

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - "This is such a serene spot. You come down into this village and it's a whole other world," said Theresa White, supervisor of Usher's Ferry.

But it was a world turned upside-down last June.

"34 out of 36 buildings were flooded."

Some were completely swept away, she said, but thanks to the help of volunteers like Rhonda Farmer with Americorps Vista, White says the village is coming back to life.

"We came every weekend," said Farmer, "and each group was between 80 and 120 people."

Farmer and other volunteer groups came here last October. They've put in 10,000 hours of work since then, mucking and gutting these historic buildings. But it was very different from working on modern-day structures. Artifacts had to be rescued and catalogued.

"You have to be very careful, you have to save the trim, if possible," Farmer said.

Some unexpected discoveries were made along the way, including an antique bottle, and in one building, corn cobs and pine cones in place of insulation. "They don't really know if that was old-fashioned insulation, or just years and years of squirrels and bats," Farmer laughed.

Crews re-laid sidewalks brick-for-brick, and re-painted damaged woodwork. Farmer was happy to make sure this tucked-away corner of Cedar Rapids wasn't overlooked in the flood recovery process.

"What gets lost in the mix, I think, are the little services. The things that make your community a community as opposed to a place to live."

Without Farmer and so many others, White says Usher's Ferry may have never recovered. She hopes to open these buildings back up for the public to enjoy for the next century.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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