Daily Archives: June 7, 2009

Sunday Column – Time Capsule

On Thursday evening, Cedar Rapids will bury a 50-year time capsule to commemorate last year’s flood.

I think it’s a good idea.

The capsule will include several relics, such as the ironic 2008 Year of the River proclamation, print, video and audio news coverage, letters from children telling their flood stories, an unused sandbag and other items.

All appropriate. But I’d add a few more items.

I’d throw in that infamous broken flood gauge, the one that failed just when we needed it most, and a stack of flood crest forecasts, the ones that turned out to be just a few feet off target in the end. I think it’s important for folks in the future to know just how surprised we all were when the river smashed history to smithereens. Didn’t see that coming.

I also would include the 1967 study that seemed to indicate this impossible flood was indeed possible. Surprise again.

Let’s make room for an industrial-sized spool of red tape, as a reminder that our bureaucracy is often less fleet-footed and responsive than we’d like. I’m sure in 50 years they’ll have that all fixed, just about the time the last buyout checks go out.

I think it’s appropriate that we include House and Senate journals from the extraordinary legislative session called last fall, when our lawmakers rushed to the Statehouse to tackle challenges spawned by the state’s worst-ever natural disaster… oh yeah.

We could include a couple of blurry photos of the flood zone, taken from a speeding SUV, to commemorate U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s whirlwind visit to Cedar Rapids. She didn’t have time to tour the flood zone. Maybe next flood.

Let’s throw in a mold-stained exterior water heater door from a FEMA trailer, autographed by Lt. Gov. Patty Judge.

It was Judge’s quick, late-night thinking that saved so many from those spores of death. Mold is a well-known cause of respiratory problems and political embarrassment.

Caffeine should be included, maybe a few Red Bulls or some coffee. It’s a reminder of what kept so many going during long hours, and that, in a time of crisis, our leaders always must remain alert and awake. OK, at least when there are TV cameras around.

We could include a photo of all the babies conceived and born between the time when Congress approved our CDBG recovery aid and it finally was allocated. Or maybe toss in that nice postcard we got from the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Wish you were here. Your recovery money already is.” Sincerely, W.

That’s a lot, I know.

What am I forgetting?

Oh yeah, receipts. Bring all your receipts. No receipts, no time capsule. Hey, rules are rules.



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