Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flooding Shuts Down

I received the following message early Sunday morning, June 15, 2008 (Central Time):

Dear Valued Member,

The situation in Cedar Rapids has reached levels never before thought possible. The flood waters surged past the 500-year flood line yesterday and continued to rise to catastrophic levels. A large portion of the downtown area is underwater and will continue to be so until the waters recede.

As we mentioned in yesterday's email, the infrastructure of our digital archives is kept downtown. While the servers are several stories above ground and are safe from the waters, power is and will be indefinitely out. Trucks with fuel for generators cannot get downtown, leaving us without even backup power in that building.

We want to assure all of our members that everything that makes our website and microfilm business possible is completely safe. Besides our servers being on high and dry ground, our physical newspaper microfilm and papers are all kept in our Heritage Microfilm building, several miles from the river.

We ask that your thoughts be with the thousands of displaced residents, including many of our employees, as we work through these trying times.

We will send occasional updates to keep you informed of the situation.

Thank you for your understanding,

The Team


To read more about the historic flood in Eastern Iowa, please visit the website of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, our local paper and one of our publishing partners:

1 comment: said...

Thank you very much for your concern. We are slowly bringing our systems back online, and we should be back to providing a consistent and stable user experience by the end of the day.

I appreciate your understanding. These have been trying times for all of us in Eastern Iowa.

On a personal note:

I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. This city is the home to my High School, where I met my wife, where I’m raising my children. Where I had the best moments of my life. Where I have been a part of building the world’s greatest digital newspaper archive. And I am shocked and devastated by the destruction in and around this city I love.

As most of you probably know, the Cedar River, which snakes through the heart of Cedar Rapids, rose almost twenty feet above flood level, causing a disaster on a never-before-seen scale. The water is just beginning to recede, and the damage is unbelievable.

A team of dedicated employees and myself made our way into the heart of the disaster on Friday to move our hardware to a better location. The pictures on the news don’t begin to tell the story. As we crossed skybridges linking office complexes in downtown, and watched the raging river below sweep through what once were streets, I realized that a lot of things I love are gone. The Chrome Horse, a local saloon where I took my employees in celebration of a great month just a few weeks ago. Blend, which has the best Prosciutto appetizer in Cedar Rapids. The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, the science station. All gone. One of our closest clients, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, was mostly under water on Friday. I’m not too proud to say that a few tears were shed.

But I wanted you all to know that even though cleanup will take months, the Midwest Spirit is amazing and Cedar Rapids will emerge even better than before.

I’m very proud of my community right now, the way we have helped each other rather than waiting for help. The deep – and I’m sure exhausting – coverage of the event by our publishing partner The Cedar Rapids Gazette and their TV affiliate KCRG has been at the core of disseminating news quickly and completely, and can be credited with saving lives. The paper was delivered daily, even after their printing press was flooded. Their websites were updated by the minute as the situation progressed.

And I’m proud of my employees. They worked long and difficult hours to rescue our servers, carry them through a mile-long “ant trail” and relocate them 60 miles away at a dry and secure location. My IT staff has been especially heroic, spending the entire weekend rewiring all of our hardware and preparing the website.

Thank you for your patience through all of this, and for your thoughts and prayers as we rebuild our great city.

I will be posting this (or something similar) on our site later today....just to say thank you and update those who have been affected.


Jeffrey C. Kiley
General Manager
Heritage Microfilm
4049 21st Avenue SW,
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404