Blogger & Academic Advisor

Eric Stoller blogging the 2008 Iowa floods

Advisor Creates Blog About Flood

Damage from this summer’s flooding in Iowa extended all the way to Oregon State.

Eric Stoller, an academic advisor at OSU, is from Columbus Junction, Iowa; a town of about 2,000 people that was besieged by water in June when the Iowa and Cedar Rivers overran their banks.

“The only way I could do something to help was to put information up on my blog,” Stoller said.

The transplanted Iowan is quite tech savvy. In a previous job, he worked as a Web consultant and he also built the OSU Admissions department’s blog. He started his personal blog in 2004, mostly as a way to publish his academic work and social justice views. In June, Stoller began posting flood photos and links to Southeast Iowa flooding news stories.

Columbus Junction to record flood history

The people of Columbus Junction will not soon forget about the floodwaters that ravaged their business district.

Humanities Iowa is making sure of it.

The organization, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has granted $1,910 to that city to assess the impact of the flood on the business community. Nitza Lopez Castillo, the city’s assistant marketing director, said the floodwaters wiped out about half of the city’s commercial strip.

“For tomorrow’s kids and grandkids, we should have this here in town for history purposes,” she said of the assessment, which will include a Power Point presentation, photographs, oral histories and more. “Columbus Junction has books in the library with the city’s history through the years, and this is something to add.”

via The Quad City Times

Blogging back to Iowa

Eric Stoller blogging in Corvallis Oregon

My blog was featured in a news story in the local Corvallis newspaper, the Gazette Times: “Former Iowan blogs back to his flooded homeland“.

I have 3 copies of the print edition, per my mom’s request, that I need to mail back to Iowa.

When I purchased them the cashier asked if I was in the paper. I said yes and she rolled her eyes ;-) .

While he’s lived in Corvallis for nearly four years, Eric Stoller will always identify himself as an Iowan.

He spent more than 20 years living in Iowa, and has close ties to his family in Columbus Junction. So when reports of massive flooding of his home state began appearing on the news, he paid close attention to the water’s progress. When it hit his hometown, he started blogging.

“I was in Oregon, and (so) blogging seemed like the only thing that I could do,” Stoller said. “It was cathartic. I quickly went through several (Internet) searches for information about Southeast Iowa flooding.”

Iowa flood video from Oakville

Hogs in Iowa after flooding in Oakville Iowa hundreds of pigs died
Video of flooding in Oakville, Iowa. Hundreds of hogs died when floodwaters swept into hog confinement buildings after the levees broke in Oakville. This video gives a compelling account of the emotional impact of flooding in Oakville, Iowa. A few hogs were rescued, however, several were euthanized. Please note, some of the images in the video are quite graphic.

Jeff Boyer never imagined that one day he would be riding over his corn fields in a fishing boat. But early Thursday morning, he and his wife, Barb, were doing just that, as they went to assess the damage to what had been a highly productive 1,000-acre family farm.

The farm sat just below the convergence of the Iowa and Mississippi Rivers near the tiny town of Oakville, Iowa. Five days earlier, the Boyers and their neighbors lost a frantic battle to save their homes and farms when the levee that had held back the Iowa River broke, submerging the entire town of Oakville and flooding 17,000 acres of prime farmland.

video auto-plays after the jump…
Continue reading Iowa flood video from Oakville

Flooding + Southeast Iowa Satellite Photos

Satellite photographs of flooding in Southeast Iowa from the Des Moines Register show the differences in river water levels from 2007 to 2008. Specific satellite imagery is available on the DMR site for Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
Satellite photo of flooding in Southeast Iowa  Cedar Rapids and Iowa City before and after comparison
via the Des Moines Register

Flooding + Iowa + Potential Cause

Iowa Flooding Could Be An Act of Man, Experts Say

Kamyar Enshayan, director of an environmental center at the University of Northern Iowa, suspects that this natural disaster wasn’t really all that natural. He points out that the heavy rains fell on a landscape radically reengineered by humans. Plowed fields have replaced tallgrass prairies. Fields have been meticulously drained with underground pipes. Streams and creeks have been straightened. Most of the wetlands are gone. Flood plains have been filled and developed.

“We’ve done numerous things to the landscape that took away these water-absorbing functions,” he said. “Agriculture must respect the limits of nature.”

[S]ome Iowans who study the environment suspect that changes in the land, both recently and over the past century or so, have made Iowa’s terrain not only highly profitable but also highly vulnerable to flooding.

via the Washington Post

Iowa flood roundup

Dike Broke 8-30 PM (6)
CJ Dike 4-30 PM to 5-23PM (11)
CJ Dike 4-30 PM to 5-23PM (14)

Iowa Hydrologic Predictions update

The Advanced Hydrologic Predictions Service is terrific source for hydrologic information. Water levels in several Southeast Iowa communities are still higher than flood stage, but the floodwaters are receding.

Columbus Junction Iowa flood predictions hydrologic data
Hydrologic prediction data from the Iowa River gauge at Columbus Junction, Iowa. The river waters are predicted to be above flood stage until June 26th.

Hydrologic prediction data for Iowa City, Muscatine, Wapello, Ottumwa and Burlington after the jump.
Continue reading Iowa Hydrologic Predictions update

Cleanup begins at Mother Mosque of America

Cleanup up from flood damage at the Cedar Rapids Mother Mosque from Richard Pratt.

Volunteer crews lent a hand Saturday, June 21, 2008, to clean up flood damage at the Mother Mosque of America in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Numerous books and artifacts at the mosque were destroyed when the Cedar River left its banks earlier this month. The Cedar Rapids center is the oldest mosque in the United States.

Rents rising in Cedar Rapids

Some owners of rental properties in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are citing supply and demand as a rationale for raising rental prices. Disgusting. The soul of capitalism is revealed within the midst of a tragic situation. Cedar Rapids, Iowa flood survivors’ need for housing is turned into the “market’s demand”. Heinous.

A post-flood housing shortage in Cedar Rapids is driving up rent for everyone as displaced families look for places to live.

Some 3,900 homes in town were damaged by the flood. Many continue to be uninhabitable. In Iowa City and Coralville, about 800 homes were evacuated.

Josh Pierce and his wife and three children had been looking for a house to rent for about a month. They’ve outgrown their small apartment in northeast Cedar Rapids, where they’ve lived for about a year.

A home at 938 38th St. SE caught their eye and on June 9, the Monday before the flood, it was listed at $645 per month by Equity Realtors, a company owned by Bob Miell.

A week later, the same house was listed online at $845 per month. Pierce called Miell’s office.

“‘Supply and demand’ — that’s all they said,” Pierce said.

Miell did not respond to requests for an interview.

Continue reading Rents rising in Cedar Rapids