Monday, June 16, 2008

Iowa Floods Exact High Toll

Yesterday, we ran a piece about how the Iowa floods had shut down, a site that many family historians visit frequently. Today, Jeffrey Kiley, general manager, left a comment on that post. It's so compelling that I thought it should be up front. Here it is:

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

As a native Midwestern, I know what Jeffrey says about the Midwestern spirit is true. The folks in Iowa have prayers.

1 comment:

Vadim said...

Here in Chicago we're trying to raise money for a couple who lost their home in Cedar Rapids. Their house was destroyed by the flooding and their place of employment was also shut down.

If you or anyone reading is interested in donating, you can visit the campaign here:

Any little bit helps. Thanks to anyone who donates and good luck to everyone in Cedar Rapids or across Iowa who's lost so much in the flood.