Vernon touts post-flood work in Cedar Rapids

U.S. House candidate makes stops at four spots devastated in 2008

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Monica Vernon spent her day on the campaign trail Thursday touring several areas of Cedar Rapids devastated by the 2008 flood.

At her side was U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul, Minnesota, and former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack.

The trio of Democrats made stops at Pierson’s Flower Shop and Greenhouse on Ellis Boulevard NW, McGrath Amphitheatre on First Street SW, Cedar Rapids Public Library on Williams Boulevard SW and the NewBo City Market on Third Street SE to highlight how far Cedar Rapids has come in rebuilding and growing, while also suggesting additional federal dollars are needed to complete vital flood protection efforts.

“The 2008 flood was devastating for so many Iowans,” said Vernon, who is challenging Republican incumbent Rod Blum in November for Iowa’s 1st District U.S. House seat. “As a member of the Cedar Rapids Council, we put politics aside and worked together to bring our city back from the disaster. You never do anything alone. We worked with every level of government — city, state and federal — to get people back in their homes, reopen our small businesses and make progress for our community.

“There’s still work to be done but I know we can keep moving forward when we work together.”

Vernon was serving on Cedar Rapids City Council in June 2008 when the Cedar River rose to its highest level in history.

Blum was also on the campaign trail Thursday, visiting with representatives of Iowa railroad companies at a manufacturing facility in Lisbon.

Both Vilsack and McCollum — who has dealt with flooding in her own district — made clear their support for Vernon.

“Iowans are resilient and hard working. You see evidence of that everywhere you look in Cedar Rapids,” said Vilsack. “Monica Vernon took action and brought a diverse group of leaders and community members together to tackle the recovery efforts from all angles and I know that’s exactly what she’ll do for Iowans in Congress.”

McCollum said she wants Vernon by her side in Congress.

“Monica’s commitment to quality of life is evident in all of the projects she’s spearheaded. Monica continues to roll up her sleeves and get things done for hardworking Iowans, she’s exactly who I want working with me in Congress to fight for good paying jobs and an economy that works for everyone.”

During their stop at Pierson’s Flower Shop, owner Al Pierson described the flood, which nearly put him out of business.

“We were prepared for a foot of water,” Pierson said. “We were planning for a little water on the floor, but instead, we got 8 feet.”

Pierson, a friend and political supporter of Vernon, said Cedar Rapids City Council helped business owners like himself recover financially.

During the tour, Vernon said her experience in rebuilding the city is something she wants to bring to the 20-county 1st District in northeast Iowa.

“(Cedar Rapids) is where I’ve done it in a big way, but I want to do the same kind of rebuilding and reflowering and job-building all across our district,” Vernon said.

“I think this shows I can do it.”

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