Floods in Cedar Rapids, IA, are forcing hundreds of local businesses and homeowners to evacuate the city. Flooding is expected to crest at 23 feet Tuesday, September 27. A 2008 flood that crested at 31 feet caught the town completely unprepared and cost billions in repairs.
“This is the most prepared that we’ve ever been for flooding,” said Council Representative Bob Doubek. “The city did a good job getting the message out early and telling people what needed to be done, and the community responded.”
Starting Friday morning, September 23, members from Carpenters Locals 308 and 1260 started assisting small businesses in evacuation efforts. They continued their efforts Saturday morning, assisting 15 homeowners and three more small businesses clear the flood zone. They moved on to sandbagging around the U.S. Sailor Convention Center until they received an urgent call to assist the Paramount Theater.
The theater, the oldest in Cedar Rapids, was destroyed in the 2008 flooding and rebuilt using union labor. The call was for volunteers to remove 880 seats in the lower auditorium. About 30 Local members, as well as friends and family, answered the call, along with many other community volunteers. They were able to move the 880 seats in about two hours, with the carpenters unbolting the seats, and other volunteers carrying them up to the balcony.
“I was pretty proud of those guys, members, and friends and family of members who stepped up and responded to that call. It was truly amazing watching everyone go to work,” added Bob.
Members continued to volunteer into the night Saturday and all day Sunday, sandbagging as needed around the city. Members with trucks responded to calls by homeowners for assistance in evacuation efforts. They plan to continue sandbagging as needed until the flood crests on Tuesday.