Coralville: Dig It Now, Love It Later

After the Flood of 1993, the City of Coralville embarked on a major construction project to repair the Coralville Strip, the worst damaged area. The roads were torn up for months, causing much inconvenience to drivers, it was the main road to Iowa City. The City even promoted the forthcoming improvements to roads, sidewalks, and sewers, with a ludicrous PR slogan, “Coralville: Dig It Now, Love It Later.”

The project was a huge success, attracting new businesses to the Strip, and inducing existing businesses to make expensive improvements. Unfortunately, all that money was spent right in the middle of the worst area of the 2008 Flood. The Coralville Strip is now open to traffic and the sight of it is appalling. Electricity is still off so the buildings are all dark. The roadside is stacked with debris pulled from flooded buildings. Everything, including the road surfaces, are coated with toxic floodwater residue. Now it’s drying in the sun and turning into dust. As I drive towards the Strip, I can see a gray cloud of toxic dust over the area. The gray dust is kicked into the air by heavy construction equipment driving into the flood zone. Street sweepers are trying to clean the roads, but they aren’t very good at cleaning off several inches of dry mud. I’m wondering if the EPA should start monitoring the air quality around here, it’s awful.

It’s pretty depressing seeing this every day. My house is safe and unaffected, it’s in the old “bedroom community” for Iowa City. But almost everything between my house and Iowa City was flooded out and destroyed. Some areas of Iowa City are difficult to reach, it’s hard to predict when you’ll run into some place impassable. It looks like the Art Campus is still flooded, that always was the lowest ground in Iowa City.

The constant drone of bad news is oppressive, it makes me want to move away from here. But once in a while I hear a bit of news that makes me feel better. I saw a story about a poor woman who evacuated from Cedar Rapids’ “Time Check Village” but left her 5 cats behind. Local TV news followed her to an emergency animal rescue shelter where she found all of her cats were saved and loafing around in cages. She picked up two of the cats, held them close and burst into tears, wailing “I want to take my kitties home!” But she will have to take them to a new home, her old home is gone. So are 2000 homes in that area.

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