Monday, September 14, 2009

Jane: Biking Cedar Rapids

Yesterday I took my usual Sunday bike ride, but this time I went on a different route. I still kept to the bike trail, for the most part, but I didn't want to load the bike on the bike carrier, so I biked over to the trail--a different part of the trail from where I usually ride.

I had to bike downtown to pick up the trail, but this is not a big deal on Sunday when there's not a lot of traffic. Plus, the side of town where we live now, the Southeast side, is flatter than where we used to live, the Northeast side. (You may think Iowa is flat, but it's actually threaded with rivers, so we have lots of rolling hills, even in town!)

Riding in downtown Cedar Rapids reminds me of last year when Robbie and I rode down every day after the flood to see where the water was. Now, 15 months after the flood, you can still see its effects. Many storefronts and downtown buildings are empty, with "for lease" signs on them. You can see in the windows that they've been gutted, and that most of them have been rehabbed, but the original residents have gone elsewhere--or gone out of business.

Other businesses are up and running--with big "We're Open for business" signs in the windows.

And of course, there are some signs that recovery hasn't touched every spot. As I rode along the bike trail out along the river, I saw some urban fields still filled with flotsam and buildings that had been damaged but not repaired. A garage that had been twisted off its foundations and slammed into another building. The roof of some vanished building, dumped in a heap.

One sight that was uplifting was our Czech town. The picture of the flooded Czech museum became a kind of emblem for the CR floods.

Just last Friday, they announced that they will rebuild--in the same neighborhood, but on a hill that they will construct, and which will be several feet higher than our "500-year" level flood. That's exciting to hear.

I got off the trail to ride up 16th Avenue into Czech town, and discovered some new businesses: a new bar or two, a cafe (they serve breakfast--I'm thinking that would be a fun Saturday morning ride), a Czech import shop and a tea room. Zindrich's, the excellent Czech home-cooking restaurant, has not rebuilt, but there was a note on the window that "coming soon" will be another restaurant. All was great to see--there is life after the flood.

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