Posts Tagged 'Flood'

Sac & Fox Trail rideable, but…

from the LCTA website

Something got me wondering about trail conditions around here the other day, so I asked Geoff Eastburn about them. He’s a bicycle racer, among other things, and soon to be president of the Linn County Trails Association (LCTA).

Here’s what he told me about the Sac & Fox Trail, which runs near Indian Creek and the Cedar River and was hit hard by the June flood:

I have ridden it multiple times since the flood and it is very rideable, with a couple of qualifications. It is more primitive than prior to the flood and there are large sand dunes near the Otis Road parking lot end of the trail. The Mt. Vernon road bridge/underpass is still out mandating the use of the street level bridge. A mountain bike would be best, but it can be done on a cross bike by more skilled riders. Frankly, it is a lot more fun now. It harkens me back to the early days on the S&F when it was a muddy double-track.

The Sac & Fox Trail winds through far southeast Cedar Rapids then parallels Otis Road from the Indian Creek Nature Center toward downtown within sight of the Cedar River. It’s popular with walkers, cyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. I hope to learn more soon about what it will take to get it back in pre-flood shape.

The LCTA website has some raw numbers that help tell the dramatic story of that flood’s impact, thanks to the counters placed at key points on the trails and to the volunteers who report the numbers. Users passing the counter at Sokol Park dropped by about 3,000 for June and July 2008 compared to those same months in 2007.

As you may have heard, the flood took away a large chunk of trail just south of the park. Look for more on that here soon.

Meantime, take a look at the raw numbers for yourself.

Pedal on.

Bicycle club donates $5,000 toward trail repairs

Little-known fact:

The Hawkeye Bicycle Association recently donated $5,000 to the City of Cedar Rapids to help repair the city’s flood-damaged trail system. A check was presented to a representative of the city’s Parks Department at the club’s annual fall meeting.

A segment of the trail a short distance south of Sokol Park was destroyed during the June flood. The tab for trail repairs is estimated to be about $300,000.

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Flood will test viability of small Cedar Rapids businesses

Mr. Guarco stands guard after flood

Two community banks within four blocks of each other in downtown Cedar Rapids had dramatically different experiences during the devastating flood that reached its peak just about a week ago. Guaranty Bank & Trust, at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, had nearly three feet of water on the first floor and had not been able to access the safe deposit vault. Thursday afternoon, upstairs tenants were allowed in but given protective masks and booties at a makeshift card table reception desk just inside the Third Street entrance. They had to show IDs to get in. Ruined furniture, wallboard and other debris continued to pile up outside under the watchful eyes of silent “Mr. Guarco.”

Two blocks north and two blocks east (not to mention a good many feet higher in elevation), Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust sat high and dry. Other than a loss of power and an evacuation order that temporarily closed the doors and moved personnel to a Council Street branch, the much younger bank dodged the destruction.

After conversations with executives of both banks today, I’m left sadly imagining a much different city here in the coming weeks, months and years. The small business community, in particular, may be in for a major shakeout, although the extent of the shakeout is no more predictable today than the record-setting crest was 10 days ago.

The banks, of course, must operate in a safe and sound manner to avoid regulatory action. At the same time, the feds will likely encourage them to “work with” borrowers as other banks and lenders were encouraged to do in the wake of Katrina and other catastrophes. Small businesses that were highly leveraged may have a hard time getting new loans, let alone paying off existing debt.

Said one banker: “We want to do everything that we can, but we also have to think about what’s best for the business, as well. If we think they’re a viable business, we’re going to do everything that we can to help.”

Recovering from a natural disaster isn’t always a test of will, as the optimistic sound bites of some officials would seem to have it. Of course, the community will survive. We’ll be back, better than ever, as some like to say.

Just keep in mind that “we” doesn’t actually mean everybody. It doesn’t mean “all of us.” It can’t. That’s what happens in a disaster; not everyone survives. For many small businesses, and maybe some bigger ones, it will come down to that test of viability.

Will gets you so far. Cash flow keeps you going.

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Flooding, escapes from reality, angry motorists

Amid the disastrous flooding here in Cedar Rapids, life incongruously goes on in many ways,Cedar Rapids backyard turns to lake especially for those of us whose neighborhoods have been spared. We can pretty easily conserve water and we can find much more active ways to help those who are real victims. We can even take some time out for a bike ride or other exercise. We can go to a movie or out to dinner, and we readily understand why the restaurant serves the food on paper plates and why the movie theater has portable toilets outside to reduce water use in the restrooms. Devastation is only a couple of miles away.

It was harder to understand why so many more motorists than usual were so overtly hostile as we bicycled to Mount Vernon and back yesterday just to get out of the city for a little while. One can only guess that it was unfortunate coincidence, or maybe the result of understandably increased stress in the atmosphere, that made so many so angry at us. We can be understanding to a point, but when their anger boils over into dangerous driving and passing us within a couple of feet, we have trouble remaining polite.

For the record, such record as might exist, one of the angry motorists was driving a red Toyota Tundra pickup truck with IA plate number 785TKT (Linn County). It would not be a surprise to read about this driver in the newspaper someday as a prime suspect in some awful hit-and-run accident that leaves bright red paint on some mangled bicycle. Keep an eye out for him and stay out of his way. That was the only plate number I could get. There should have been others.

Coincidentally, this morning the Cedar Rapids Gazette published a guest column I submitted a week or so ago: Long road to C.R. becoming bicycle friendly. You can read it in the e-edition (if you log in first, but it’s free), or you can go here to read it if you like: http://bjsmith.us/essays.html.

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