Flood of 2008: West Side Rising

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A memorial and gateway project to remember the west side residents of Cedar Rapids who lost homes to flooding 10 years ago got an official dedication by city leaders on Wednesday.

The crowd at the dedication of the Gateway to the River and West Side Rising memorial on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

That ceremony came exactly 10 years from the day of peak of Cedar River flooding back in June of 2008.

It was a moment frozen in time, 10:15 A.M., when the water peaked on June 13, 2008 and that time is part of the public art connected with the Northwest Gateway and Memorial Plaza.

Between 100 and 200 people attended the dedication event.

Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver launched many of the state recovery programs that flood victims used to recover over the year.

Culver attended the event and on a return visit to an area he visited many times during the flooding, he said he can see what was lost but can also see what the future might hold with the green space behind the gateway sign.

“What I see right here are generations of kids who will be playing in this part on these future athletic fields—football, soccer. I mean what a great space,” Culver said.

But the former governor, and others at the dedication, say it’s important to remember how this space was created.

It was the largest disaster in Cedar Rapids history and the green space represents hundreds of homes torn down in buyouts.

Ann Poe, a Cedar Rapids city council member and native of the west side Time Check neighborhood says there’s joy at how the fundraising succeeded to put up the memorial plaza.

Yet there’s also sadness that so much changed.

“It can never be the same. We can aspire to be better, stronger than before. But it still hurts,” Poe said.

Organizers say they wanted a memorial that spoke to the resiliency and recovery of this hard-hit neighborhood. And they believe that’s what they got.