CEDAR RAPIDS — Lisa Scholl can’t believe it.
The house she and her husband Jim have lived in for 32 years — the same home they rebuilt after it sat in more than 3 feet of water in 2008 — is in danger again.
The Scholls, along with their children and other family members, were in constant motion Sunday at their Seventh Avenue SW home choosing which possessions to save and preparing their house — located within the city’s evacuation zone — for rising floodwaters.
Scholl said she has no plans of leaving her home unless absolutely necessary.
“We’re sticking together as a family,” she said. “But if the power goes off we’ll have to leave, we’ll have no choice.”
The Scholls are among the dozens of Taylor Area Neighborhood residents who took action this weekend to sandbag their homes and make the difficult decision on whether or not to evacuate. Emotions among those still around Sunday ranged from the dread of losing everything to frustration they are facing another major flood just eight years after the 2008 deluge.
Though evacuation isn’t mandatory, city officials strongly encouraged all residents inside the evacuation zone — designated as an area that would flood should the Cedar River crest at 28 feet — to be out of their homes by 8 p.m. Sunday. Approximately 6,000 parcels are included in the city’s evacuation plan.
On Seventh Avenue SW, Joyanna Moore leaned on the front gate of her home, which is adorned with fake spiderwebs, spiders and skulls in preparation of Halloween.
Moore said she, too, plans to ride out the flood with her roommate, three dogs and three cats.
“It’s crazy, I just can’t believe we’re at this point again,” she said. “I’m not leaving, I have nowhere to go with six animals.”
Meanwhile, near Third Avenue SW and Seventh Street SW, Kagoma Gracien and Nkoribigawa Triphonia, natives of Burundi who have been living in their Cedar Rapids house for about three years, have never witnessed major flooding.
While they’ve already relocated to the emergency shelter at Cedar Hills Community Church, 6455 E Avenue NW, Gracien, Triphonia and several friends and family members were at their property Sunday to sandbag the basement windows.
“They’re scared about the house. It’s a new house and they don’t want to lose it,” Jeanbosco Ndayisenga, a friend of the family, said while translating for Gracien.
As they worked, members of Veritas Church, 509 Third St. SE, stopped by to provide sandbags.
Ndayisenga said he has marveled at the level of community support — often from complete strangers — he’s witnessed over the last several days.
“Since Friday, people keep coming to help. We don’t know them, they don’t know us, they just come and keep helping,” Ndayisenga said.
Paula Hamer, with Veritas Church, is one of those who decided to help deliver sandbags Sunday. By about noon, she said she had already made five trips to the former Kmart parking lot at 2727 16th Ave. SW to collect more sandbags.
“We are called as believers in Christ to be the church, not just attend the church, so we are serving our community,” she said.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Hala Azmeh, with the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, was one of the volunteers in the former Kmart parking lot. She said nearly 70 members of the center canceled Sunday school to help fill sandbags.
Azmeh summed up the crowd of volunteers in one word: “community.”
“This is what Cedar Rapids is, it’s unification. You look out there, you’ve got so many different colors, so many different backgrounds, so many different faiths, socioeconomic, anything that can represent a human race is out there and they’re all working hand-in-hand.”