A woman who used to be at the helm of city government in Cedar Rapids says this year’s flooding is much more than the previous record year of 1993.
Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Lee Clancey is the current president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. "It doesn’t even compare to ’93," Clancey said of this week’s flooding in Linn County. "In ’93, the (Cedar River’s) crest was 19.3 feet. We’re talking about a crest (this year) of seven feet higher."
The flooding in Cedar Rapids turned dramatically worse on Wednesday. The downtown area is now buried under several feet of water. The flood waters even wiped out a railroad bridge that was loaded down with rail cars. "It really is very hard to put into words because you just never think something this devastating could happen to your own community," Clancey said.
Up to 9,000 Cedar Rapids residents have been forced out of their homes and some 300 businesses are now out of business. The City Hall, Linn County Courthouse and Linn County Jail are all surrounded by flood waters. "Almost every one of our cultural institutions is under water. The entire downtown area, from a very wide swath, is completely inundated…it’s just the most unbelievable scene I’ve ever witnessed," Clancey says.
The river is expected to crest in Cedar Rapids Friday, but Clancey says it’s difficult to imagine the city returning to any sense of normalcy soon. "Even once it does crest, the water is expected to stay high for somewhere between four and six days and so, yes, we are thinking about recovery. Have we done anything about it yet? (We) can’t do anything about it until this event has subsided," Clancey says.
Clancey served as the mayor of Cedar Rapids from 1990 to 2001. In 2005, she took over as president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.