Before I even got to Edgewood Road, where the city was trying to save the city’s final water suction well, I was told, “We don’t need anymore volunteers. Go to Mercy Hospital.”
Gazette photographer Jim Slosiarek — a pro’s pro, it was a privilege, Jim — and I made our way forward. Before we got to the suction well, I twice heard loud cheers break out. I had no idea what to make of that. It had to be good, right?
It was the some 1,000 to 1,200 volunteers doing the wave and cheering the salvation of the well. At around 10:30, a city worker called an end to the operation and told volunteers to get their butts over to Mercy Medical Center, where sandbagging efforts worked around the first-ever evacuation of the hospital.
Most of you Cedar Rapids people listened.
About 400 to 600 people sandbagged Mercy, on both sides, from the Lundy Pavilion to 8th Street. A Coggon mom brought her two daughters and family friend. They were chest deep in line, passing along sandbags that took a good effort out of me. The tattooed guy was three guys down from a Rockwell guy. Kids and teenagers. Forty-somethings and soccer moms.
One guy, Greg Pohl, described it as “An incredible army of people.” That rung out to me.
I’ll never forget it.
I’ll probably get in trouble for the headline on this blog, but you really do kick a**, Cedar Rapids. I’m proud of you.
God speed to all.
This is where I was at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning. TV trucks were stationed on the last west onramp to 380. Mayor Kay Halloran, the unsinkable mayor, showed up in a CR Fire Department vehicle. I talked with her a little bit at the Linn County Emergency Management Agency on the Kirkwood campus. (By the way, if she’s presented with the option to enforce mandatory water restrictions, she will sign without hesitation.)
She gazed out at the rushing Cedar River. The only sound was a little traffic and a lot of rapids.
“Lord love a duck,” she said.