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False Start

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cedar River came up fast and ugly, going way beyond the 500 year flood plain, more than 12 feet over projected flood level, exceeding all past records. On the plus side, it is receding very rapidly allowing us to begin the recovery process.

Most of our cultural resources are along the river — the public library, art museum, opera house, African American Museum, Czech/Slovak Museum & Library. You get the idea. The 1st floor of the public library is wiped out. Luckily it’s all replaceable books. The rare material is on 2nd floor but they can’t get to the library yet so we may be dealing with mold here soon.

Today with the help of some local politicians we were able to get an exemption and get a recovery team and freezer truck into the Czech Slovak Museum area. The mud and guck was so thick that we weren’t able to do much today except get some of the mud out and open doors to get some air circulation going. Tomorrow we plan to start packing the material out and “fight the good fight” to get the African American museum exempted so we can start packing them out, too. Gary Frost, UI Libraries conservator, joined me today and will continue to help this week as will his partner, Joyce Miller.

Travel is difficult and patience-testing, taking at least double the time to get anywhere. Roads have been washed out so even if the water goes down, the road isn’t there anymore anyway.