Posts Tagged ‘flood’

I’m scheduled to write about a memory for which I’m grateful. Once again, it is very hard to choose just one. I have a tendency to write about memories most of the time so I was wracking my brain to think of something clever or creative. However, while checking my “On This Day” tab on my Facebook news feed, I came across a memory from six years, for which I am so very thankful.


Six years ago last week was the anniversary of the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated northeastern Japan. With only the 2008 Cedar Rapids flood as a reference, I cannot begin to imagine the recovery efforts needed to return to some sense of normalcy. The effects of that disaster were felt around the world, even in Cedar Rapids, as the McGarveys here (and in the St. Louis area) waited impatiently for news. You see, my beautiful niece Kim was working as a kindergarten teacher in Sendai, only 80-miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. Initially, local people reported 200 to 300 bodies already been found there. It all turned out okay for Kim, but even with all the current technology, it was hours before we knew that for sure. Hours of prayer. Hours of worry (let’s be honest – we say Christians shouldn’t worry, but we do). Hours of waiting for any little bit of news. Hours of watching devastating video. Hours of hearing rumors, hoping it’s all false.

If my memory is correct (please, no quotes here), Kim’s school ended up being a recovery location. She waited herself for news of her little students. As Americans, she and some other teachers ended up being transferred to the U.S. Air Force base at Misawa, north of the affected area. Eventually she flew home, only to return in late summer to help out again.

The numbers involved with this earthquake and tsunami are incomprehensible. The death toll was over 18,000, with over 6,000 injured. Entire towns were lost. Over 228,000 people had to live away from their homes, either temporarily or permanently. The property damage figures are staggering. Some estimate insured losses from the earthquake alone to be $34.6 billion US dollars. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents including meltdowns of three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex. People within a 12 miles radius of the plant evacuated. The health results of this part of the disaster may never be comprehended. Radiation levels remain dangerously high, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported in 2013 that about 300 tons of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean everyday.

It is not my intent to scare people. Though I am very grateful for my niece’s safety, for many, this anniversary is a reminder of one of the worst moments in recent history. Please take some time today to hug your kids, call your mom, and pray for a nation still recovering. May my heart be moved as God’s heart.


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Cedar Rapids, Iowa – my current home town. I’ve lived here for almost 27 years and worked downtown for the last eight.


Overhead view of Cedar River at flood stage, June, 2008

In 2008, our downtown was devastated by “the great flood” and it has taken a tremendous amount of vision, finances and hard work to rebuild. But I’m very proud of this little city and all it has accomplished in the last 8 years.

There are new buildings, new businesses and a new mindset – rebranding themselves into a destination spot, not just a place to live and work. I’ve enjoyed watching the changes, as I walk around over my lunch hour. NewBo, Czech Village, Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood and the downtown area itself have all been transformed. The city’s latest project is Overalls All Over – celebrating native son and celebrated artist Grant Wood’s 125th birthday. He lived in Cedar Rapids almost his whole life and created beautiful paintings in a style later known as Regionalism, where an artist paints what he/she lives with, in or around.

Probably Grant Wood’s most famous painting was “American Gothic,” created in 1930.Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project A cultural icon, it is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood drew a picture of a small farm cottage near Eldon, Iowa, and placed in front of it the likenesses of his sister and a Cedar Rapids dentist (no, not a farmer). Trivia note: They never really stood in front of that house or even together.

The Overalls All Over project includes 25 life-sized statues of the American Gothic likeness and they are displayed all over Cedar Rapids (as well as one in front of the famous home in Eldon, Iowa).

Since I walk all over Cedar Rapids every weekday, I took a few snapshots of the various statues. Some are fun and quirky, others impressive and creative. I’m looking forward to finding a few more in the weeks ahead as the project continues until September.





On the Coe College campus, depicting local TV station, KCRG TV9

One of my favorites (so far) – in front of Czech & Slovak Museum, currently housing an Andy Warhol display

In front of Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust on 1st Avenue, NE

The CR Museum of Art has a permanent Grant Wood display

Couldn’t help myself. Had to get a picture with the “Go” statue. Go-go boots on her and “Do Not Pass Go” guy from Monopoly. This one is in front of the NewBo City Market.

Near Mercy Medical Center on 4th Avenue SE

Outside the Gazette Building across from Greene Square and CR Museum of Art on 5th Street SE

The man is a selfie of Grant Wood, standing outside his studio on 2nd Ave SE

Outside the new Iowa Brewing Company restaurant on 3rd St SE


The guardians of the Cedar Rapids Public Library


Take a fun few hours and visit our little city. Restaurants are great. Easy walking or biking trails can take you everywhere. And, we have overalls all over.


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