Monday, June 23, 2008

Vacation countdown

I am finally getting a little further back in to the swing of writing while I am at work. Having the internet readily available at all times proves a little distracting, but I have finally finished Timeline for next month, started back on Living Legends, and plan on getting a little more Arc done before the end of the work week.

And it’s a short work week, as the wife, the kid, and I are on our way to Springfield, Illinois, to visit her family over a long weekend. This will be our only family vacation for the year as we save up for a Disney World vacation next year. Should be interesting to see the old haunts again; I haven’t been back in Illinois for a couple years now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quick Flood Update

Not much to report in the Cedar Rapids area. We are slowly but surely recovering. The downtown area is being stripped bare of carpets, walls, and insulation as the first steps of clean up are underway. It is going to be a slow build but we will get it done. Cedar Rapids is not the kind of town to quit.

As for UrRelay, it looks like we will be moving to another temporary location, something a bit more stable than a college, until all the renovations can be made downtown. It will be a mess and an adventure all rolled in to one.

Now my prayers go out to all the folks that are facing record flooding a little father downstream, mostly on the Mississippi. Hopefully they can avoid some of the devastation we felt here as the floods continue to be big problems all throughout the Midwest.

Now just like in 1993, it looks like we may be heading in to a drought post-flood. Let’s hope we can avoid that, as no one wants any more price hikes on corn and soybeans.

That’s all for now. I will be back with a few more comments on the flood eventually as things continue to develop.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moving Past the Flood

So the recovery process is slowly taking shape in the Cedar Rapids area and with it I’ve decided to try and move on to other things myself. Which means I am going to have to try to avoid the distraction of free use internet at the temporary call center at Mt. Mercy. Time to get back down to writing.

Tonight however I was far too exhausted to even put together a quality sentence let alone a paragraph or longer. So my plan now is to get back on track and finish the next Timeline tomorrow and Thursday if need be, and then go to work on some more Arc. We will see how far I can get in both this week. Hopefully a good day’s sleep will be able to help with both.

I will be taking down the Mean Streets blogspot page in the near future. My plan now is to integrate a revised version of the story on to the proper Metahuman Press. The blog format just was not working for me. I may experiment with it more later. We will see how that plays out.

Otherwise, it is the usual fun and games. I will continue to try and update this blog on a regular basis. I think with the access at the call center I should do a lot better.

That’s all for now. Later days all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flood of 2008: Update Monday... early

Iowa City still lies in danger, while the flood levels continue to fall in Cedar Rapids. We have dropped out eight feet in the last couple days which means we are in good shape for an early drop below flood stage. It is still predicted around Friday, but we will see what is going on.

I am thoroughly amazed at everything going on at UrRelay to keep thinks operational here at Mt. Mercy College. We are expanding in to a second room in the building and our tech boys are working like monkeys od’ing on caffeine. But they are setting us up with one wild temporary call center... which will almost certainly be gone within a week or two when we move to a more secure temporary location. It has been a wild and crazy experience.

In other flood related news, Father’s Day is postponed this year, at least in my household, as we have left Hannah at Grandma’s house for another week while the flood subsides a little more. On the brightside the city has opened another water center, which means we can now use water every other day. So even numbered houses get to use water on even days, odd numbered houses on odd days. So, yes, I am looking forward to a shower in another 7 hours or so.

Enough for now. Thanks for all the prayers, well wishes, and the such from everyone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flood of '08: An Update as the Flooding Subsides

While south of us the cities of Iowa City and Coralville, the worst of it has past for Cedar Rapids. After the crest at noon yesterday the water levels have come down about eighteen inches. Now we have the slow wait until the water drops enough that repairs can begin.

According to the National Weather Service site, we still have five or six days before we even reach the Major Flood stage level. It will be over a week before we even get down to flood level.

We now have days of water conservation ahead of us. No showering, no washing dishes, no laundry. The stupidity of it all is that we have not shut down all the restaurants, laundromats, cleaners, and the like around the city. Hence the water levels continue to fall and we will soon be in the danger of a boil order because of it. I highly recommend any locals that are out and about stop to implore these people to shut down so as to conserve water. Having worked in any number of restaurants I know exactly how much water they use.

I will end with a few pictures that just illustrate the strangeness of it all. I will continue to check in sporadically with more information.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood of '08: Another day, still risin'

Sorry about the lack of updates overnight. The river continues to ride here in CR. It’s slowing now, but for quite awhile was rising at the rate of 2 inches an hour. We are fast approaching 32 feet which is at or near crest. One of the two hospitals, both of which are 6 to 7 blocks from the so-called 500 year flood plane (that is the plane that it rose to back in 1993) is now taking on water and closed. Mercy will be closed indefinitely now. The other hospital, St. Lukes, is at the top of a hill only about three blocks away, but it looks like it will survive.

I am about 8 blocks from that location, again uphill, but I have to say it is not without some trepidation. Our basement remains dry however, and that is a good sign that we will be all right for the long run.

I did just take a look National Weather Service site of our flood information and the depressing part is how slow the water will lower. It will take a full week for the water to just drop to the levels it was on Thursday night. And that is not even counting the fact that several levees were broken as well. But the current prediction is a full week just to lower down in to Major stage. That’s a week before most of the flooded areas can even be reentered.

I will continue to update as I can. My internet connection seems all right still and as long as I have it, I will keep posting. While 14,000 houses are without power in this county, I count myself lucky that we are still in such great shape.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Flood of '08: A Look at UrRelay

I’m back from my couple hours of sleep. After being up nearly 24 hours thanks to the issues yesterday and today and my job working the overnight yesterday evening, I just had to crash a few hours.

The water levels are still rising in downtown Cedar Rapids and it looks like they expect them to until some time early tomorrow morning. No one really knows for sure as the National Weather Service gauge in Cedar Rapids was wiped away in the middle of the night. However it looks like they were finally able to update it this afternoon on their website. Current river levels are at 29.32 feet in downtown Cedar Rapids. That's five feet over where they expected it to crest last night. The revised predictions look lik the crest isn’t coming until 10 or 11 am tomorrow either, at around 32 feet. That’s over ten past the current record from 1993.

So the situation is far from over.

In related news, I finally have seen a shot of my job downtown. UrRelay is located under a parking garage in downtown Cedar Rapids, or at least it was... This is a shot of the side of the parking garage with both a car and the ramp for reference points.

And here is a shot from a little further away just to give you some idea of the size of all this.

And finally some Youtube video of downtown circa 11 a.m. this morning. You can check it out by clicking on this link. Again thanks to Gazette Online for all these chats.

Flood of '08: One last picture before I go.

Here’s one last shot of downtown Cedar Rapids before I go. This is just a block or so away from where UrRelay normally works downtown. It looks like it will be awhile before we see the downtown office again.

Again thanks to Gazette Online for the pictures.

Flood of '08: Railroad bridge R.I.P.

Yeah, we have one less bridge in the city of Cedar Rapids as of three hours ago. Now we finally have pictures of it, again thanks to the fine folks at Gazette Online.

This is the bridge as of a couple hours ago. More of it has collapsed since then, and all those railroad cars are now underwater. This has created a major rapids situation over downtown and left the southwest side of town under several feet of water.

This will be my last update for a couple hours at least. I am going to attempt to get some sleep finally. I may very well go back to my job later tonight (take that, day off!) as many of my coworkers may not be able to make it though to their job.

Keep praying with everyone in the Cedar Rapids and eastern Iowa area. This is far from over.

Flood of '08: Downtown fading fast

Well, just a couple hours ago I was wondering how well downtoown Cedar Rapids might be hit by the rising water. The local power company, Alliant, is slowly taking on water and it has shut down the power for the city. Levels are covering the steet now as seen in the picture below:

This is about 2 and a half blocks from my job, 3 and a half blocks from the downtown library, 8 or 9 blocks from the now powerless main post office levels.

Now the water services in the city are also becoming strained as the city fights to avoid any sewage backup in to drinking water.

City hall is even gone and the downtown prisoners are being moved to the nearest prison facility as the jail is underwater. My house went without powers for about two hours as energy levels are rerouted to keep dangerous transformer damage.

Reports coming in now say we have already reached the previously predicted crest of 24.5 feet (12.5 feet above flood level) without reaching crest yet.

Below is a look at the bridges in downtown Cedar Rapids. The railroad bridge downtown is already gone, washed away despite several tons of extra weight holding it down. Most likely all downtown bridges will be gone by later today.

Normally these bridges run a good twenty to thirty feet over the Cedar River.

Right now, it can be best described as a damn mess.

Currently we are holding out at my house right off Mt. Vernon Rd about a mle and a half from downtown. These photos send shivers down my side as I look at them and I fear it will only get worse. Thankfully, my daughter is currently visiting the town of Traer where her grandparents, my folks, live. We had planned to go get her just before Father’s Day, and that is looking less and less likely as the water levels continue to rise.

It is terrible out there right now, but the people of Cedar Rapids are fighting as hard as they can to keep the damage from spreading. But with the water levels still rising, it is anyone’s guess as to how long we can hold out.

Flood of '08: Disaster Watch

So I haven’t written much on this blog for the last couple months as I am still considering how to reformat it for my slowly developing revised version of Metahuman Press. None of that really matters right now as I have something more important I thought I would chronicle.

Welcome to the second “500 Year Flood” in Iowa history. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no expert, but I am pretty sure that 500 Year Floods are supposed to occur only every 500 years or so. And unless my math is pretty bad, it's only been fifteen. Yeah, just checked on my computer. Definitely 2008, not 2493.

Anyway, large portions of several cities have already been washed away. Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and smaller towns like New Hartford and Palo are gone. Others like Iowa City, Coralville, and my own Cedar Rapids are just entering the danger zone.

Record rain levels are to blame. We have already surpassed the crest level from 1993 and it is only going to get worse over the next day or two, even as it continues to rain outside.

Downtown, where I work for UrRelay, has been evacuated. Relay call centers cannot shut down without possibly losing their license. So we’ve all went to college. Mt. Mercy College to be exact. Servers, computers, people, extras, everything that we could need have found their way from a full-sized facility downtown and in to a one class room operation at the collge. It’s; cramped, messy, downright insane, but functional nonetheless.

Water levels are only going to keep rising as the rain falls. Pray for all the fine folks in the errors evacuating.