Cedar Rapids dedicates memorial on 10th anniversary of floods - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids dedicates memorial on 10th anniversary of floods

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

The city of Cedar Rapids celebrates "rising above" the floodwater in one of the areas hit hardest during the 2008 floods.

On June 13, 2008, flood waters in Cedar Rapids climbed over 31 feet. In all, more than 5,000 homes took on damage and nearly 950 businesses were also hit by the destructive waters. City-wide, 1,400 homes and businesses were lost, with 60 percent of those losses in the northwest neighborhood.

"It's hard to imagine the scene that was unfolding exactly 10 years ago today. The water higher than anyone thought possible," Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said.

It's in that neighborhood in which 10 years later, the city chose to dedicate a flood memorial.

"As a city, we look ahead but sometimes it's important to stop and take a look back. Today, we are on the sight of what was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history," Pomeranz said.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people came for the dedication ceremony to celebrate the city's resilience in the years after the flooding.

"This is another historic day in Cedar Rapids and a far better one than 10 years ago," newly elected Cedar Rapids Mayor, Brad Hart, said.

One piece of the memorial is a map of the neighborhood, prior to the 2008 flood. It shows a neighborhood full of homes in contrast of the empty green space where the homes once stood. In the aftermath, the city bought out properties and condemned the damage homes.

The memorial also nods to the neighborhood's rich history.

"One hundred years ago or more even, this neighborhood hosts the Muslim community. They were here in the grocery stores, they were in the beauty saloons, they were here working," Taha Tawil said.

Tawil is the imam of the Mother Mosque of America, which is located in the northwest neighborhood. The mosque is the oldest standing, purpose-built mosque in the country. In 2008, it too took on water.

Hart said while the dedication was to remember the homes and businesses disrupted by the flood, he said the recovery efforts will continue until the city has permanent flood protection on both sides of the river.

"Our hope and our fight is that no one in Cedar Rapids will ever have to face that type of devastating loss again," Hart said.

The city adopted a $750 million flood control plan that it is still in the process of becoming a reality. It calls for flood walls, levees and gates.

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