The 500-Year Flood

When the Iowa River rose to unprededented levels on June 16, 2008, the National Weather service called it a “historic hydrological event,” and the term  “500 year flood” was bandied about. What does that mean exactly? According to, “A 500-year-flood is so big and rare that it will normally happen only once every 500 years. . . . Every flood season has exactly the same chance—one in 500—of producing a 500-year-flood.”

Whatever you call it, the devastation is shocking. As of June 16, over 4000 homes in downtown Cedar Rapids were affected, as well as many businesses. Governor Culver issused a disaster proclamation for 83 Iowa counties.

In Iowa City, where the disastrous flooding has pretty much cut the town in two, many have been displaced from their homes. Many homes have been ruined beyond repair. Ryan Jeter, saxophonist for Euforquestra and organizer of Camp Euphoria, says, “I know many, many people who are not going back to their homes, ever.” Want to help?

Call 2-1-1:
When you call 2-1-1, you can receive information on flood-related assistance, including road closings, evacuation and shelter information. Opportunities to help are available by zip code, so anyone can find out where to help near their home.

Iowa Concern Hotline:
Volunteer hotline for people who wish to help in recovery efforts.

Iowa City Flood Hotline:

Johnson County Emergency Management:

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service Program — Cedar Rapids:

Thanks for David Zaghoul of Cafe Z in Iowa City for this information.