Posts tagged flooding

A look at rain gardens

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Our flood anniversary tribute continues with a look at rain gardens. Several people I interviewed for the article in the Sunday, June 14, 2009, Gazette said while rain gardens would not have prevented last year’s devastating floods in Iowa, they could have helped. Lucy Hershberger, co-owner of Forever Green Landscaping & Garden Center in Coralville showed me the well-kept rain garden in front of their site on Forevergreen Road, near North Liberty. Yellow and blue flag iris, native grasses, coneflower, liatris and dwarf arctic blue willow were planted when the rain garden was installed in September. It’s obvious that Hershberger’s  enthusiasm goes beyond trying to sell customers on a new fad. She has conducted free seminars on rain gardens for people to learn more and to better take care of their little corner of the environment. Hershberger remembers the interest in rain gardens and rain barrels in the early 1990s, at that time because of costs associated with watering. “Now it’s because of the awareness of stormwater management,” she said. “It’s not cost-driven.”

Blue flag iris

Blue flag iris

The following list of plants is from Iowa’s Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual Native Plant Favorites for Soils with Good Percolation Rates:

Common Name Height Comments

Blue grama 1-2 ft makes a good border

Bottle gentian 1 ft novel purple flowers

Butterfly milkweed 1-4 ft emerges late spring; no milky sap

Columbine 1-2 ft orange flower stalk may add 1 ft

Culver’s root 3-6 ft can get tall; for moderatley moist soils

Fox sedge 1-3 ft may not tolerate drought

Golden alexander 1-3 ft yellow dill-like flower, mod moist soils

Little bluestem 2 ft nice rusty color all winter

Mountain mint 1-3 ft for moist soils

Nodding onion 1-2 ft for moderately moist soils

Pale purple coneflower 4 ft most overused native; only in S. Iowa

Prairie blazing star 2-5 ft for moist soils

Prairie smoke 1 ft makes a good border

Sideoats grama 2-3 ft red anthers; not as tidy as little bluestem

Silky aster 1-2 ft loved by rabbits

Websites with native plant lists for rain gardens:

http://prrcd.org/inl/recommended_plants.htm

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/rg/plants/PlantListing.html

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Flood photos part 2: Czech Village

Photos shot post-flood June 2008. Gazette photographer Cliff Jette and I were allowed to accompany shop owners when they first saw the devastation in Czech Village after the flood. Here is some of what we found:

Polehna's Meat Market was among the businesses hard-hit by the flood. Owner Mike Ferguson decided not to reopen the shop because of overwhelming rebuilding costs. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Polehna's Meat Market was among the businesses hard-hit by the flood. Owner Mike Ferguson decided not to reopen the shop because of overwhelming rebuilding costs. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Jan Stoffer and Gail Naughton, center, of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, make their way down 16th Avenue. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Jan Stoffer and Gail Naughton, center, of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, make their way down 16th Avenue. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette (right) shooting inside Polehna's. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette (right) shooting inside Polehna's. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Bozenka's Gif Shop, owned by Czech School teacher Bessie Dugena. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Bozenka's Gift Shop, owned by Czech School teacher Bessie Dugena. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gail Naughton photographs Babi Buresh Center, next to Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gail Naughton photographs Babi Buresh Center, next to Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Floodwaters remained in front of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, days after the flood (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Floodwaters remained in front of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, days after the flood (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Boat jammed behind cross near Joens Bros. Interiors (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Boat jammed behind cross near Joens Bros. Interiors (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette, right, talks to another photographer between Ernie's Avenue Tavern and Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette, right, talks to another photographer between Ernie's Avenue Tavern and Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Looking up muck-covered 16th Avenue SW, away from the Cedar River (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Looking up muck-covered 16th Avenue SW, away from the Cedar River (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Sign outside National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Sign outside National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (photo, Cindy Hadish)

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Looking back: flood photos from inside and outside of The Gazette

Watching rising Cedar River from 16th Avenue SW on June 10, 2008. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Watching rising Cedar River from 16th Avenue SW on June 10, 2008. (Cindy Hadish photo)

One year ago is when it all began. On June 10, my sons and I went to Czech Village in Cedar Rapids to see if we could offer any help in sandbagging efforts. We encountered a flurry of activity, even though no one knew exactly what was coming. Later, we offered our help to Kather Alter, a Gazette employee who was evacuating from the Time Check neighborhood.

Looking back, there was so much more I wish we had done. The historic Cedar River flood ended up affecting not only Czech Village, Time Check and other areas abutting the river, but places I never thought would be touched, including  my mother’s home.  The Gazette, in downtown Cedar Rapids, was also affected, even though we stayed above the floodwaters.

Here are some of the photos I captured during those days in June 2008.

Looking down Third Ave. SE toward Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Looking down Third Ave. SE toward Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbagging at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbagging at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Near Boston Fish at Fifth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Near Boston Fish at Fifth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Hospital CEO Tim Charles inside flooded Mercy Medical Center (Cindy Hadish photo)

Hospital CEO Tim Charles inside flooded Mercy Medical Center (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dan Geiser, Joe Hladky and George Ford inside a darkened Gazette, cooled, somewhat, by fans (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dan Geiser, Joe Hladky and George Ford inside a darkened Gazette, cooled, somewhat, by fans (Cindy Hadish photo)

Stream of cars drive through the Wal-Mark parking lot to pick up bottled water (Cindy Hadish photo)

Stream of cars drive through the Wal-Mart parking lot to pick up bottled water (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbags in front of Gazette building in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbags in front of Gazette building in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Gazette publisher Dave Storey probably regrets being in my photo taken on the back dock of The Gazette. Employees had to use portable toilets for weeks because of water restrictions in Cedar Rapids. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Gazette publisher Dave Storey probably regrets agreeing to be in this photo taken on the back dock of The Gazette. Employees had to use portable toilets for weeks because of water restrictions in Cedar Rapids. (Cindy Hadish photo)

To be fair, this is me in the same spot on the Gazette's back dock - no shower for days because of the city's water restrictions.

To be fair, this is me in the same spot on the Gazette's back dock - no shower for days because of the city's water restrictions.

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Where do you go for strawberries?

Now that Iowa’s largest “you pick” strawberry farm – Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo – is out of commission for the 2009 season, where else can Eastern Iowans go to pick strawberries?

I found a few growers at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship site: www.agriculture.state.ia.us 

But  I’m sure there are many not listed.

Here are the hours for some of them. Call ahead, as opening days vary.

    Bagge Strawberries near Independence is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays beginning around June 14. Prices are $1.95/pound for pre-picked and $1.20/pound for “you pick.” Call (319) 334-3983.

    Heartland Farms near Waterloo is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with both “you pick” and pre-picked strawberries. Prices were not set as of last week. Call (319) 232-3779.

    Koehn Berries and Produce in West Union is open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Prices are $2.30/pound for pre-picked and $1.15/pound for “you pick.” Call (563) 422-3716.

 Owner Max Hagen asked me to reiterate that Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo will not have strawberries this year, but expects to return the following season. The fields were flooded last June and although some of the plants survived, Max said the quantity and quality would not be what his customers have come to expect.

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Homegrown Iowa band rocks! Update…

Aeroroot

Aeroroot - Lf. to rt: Steve Krusie, Brett Karminski, Tracy Tunwall, Clint Landis

 UPDATE 6/22/09: Aeroroot was one of four bands to make it from this weekend’s competition in California to the finals at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on  Oct. 3.

“It was more humbling than anything else,” lead vocalist Clint Landis, Frontier’s chief marketing officer, said of the outcome.

Aeroroot performed at The Key Club on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif., on Saturday, beating the NBC network’s corporate band and other well-seasoned groups to get to the finals.

“We certainly were the least slick band there,” said lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier’s brand manager. “We kind of felt a little bit out of place. Our only goal was to not mess up and to play as well as we could.”

The band’s raw performance apparently struck a chord with the three judges, who announced Aeroroot as the fourth and last group to make it into the finals.

“We heard, ‘and from Norway, Iowa,’ and that’s all we remember,” Karminski said.

Aeroroot performed the weekend before at Floodstock and the Relay for Life benefit, both in Cedar Rapids. Landis said they will likely take a break, but might do a few more gigs before October’s contest.

Other Aeroroot members are drummer Steve Krusie, Frontier’s director of public relations, and Tracy Tunwall, who plays bass guitar and sings backup vocals. Formerly vice president of human resources for Frontier, Tunwall is now an assistant professor at Mount Mercy College.

Here’s the previous post, before Aeroroot’s  competition in California:

Great story here out of Frontier Natural Products Co-op in Norway, Iowa. Aeroroot, a band made up of co-op employees, has made it to the regional semi-finals of the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands.

Aeroroot will be playing in Cedar Rapids at Floodstock on June 13, before they leave for the competition in L.A.  Drummer Steve Krusie said the band will play the same set at Floodstock as it will for the judging.

 If you can’t catch them in Cedar Rapids, you can listen to the band here:  http://www.aerorootband.com/listen.htm

Songs they entered in the competition were Voodoo on the Bayou, a cover of Cold Black Night and Dance with Me. Steve, who played in garage bands while a Kennedy High School student in the ’70’s,  said all three songs are on the Web site.

Here is more info from Frontier:

   Selected as one of 16 corporate bands to compete in regional semi-final events, Aeroroot will perform at The Key Club on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif., on June 20. Formerly the historic Gazarri’s nightclub, the venue earned its fame as the home of future rock and roll stars, including The Doors, Tina Turner and Van Halen.

 “To be honest, if we thought we really had a chance, we would have been too nervous to even record our entry,” admits Clint Landis, lead vocalist and Chief Marketing Officer for Frontier Natural Products Co-op, which is located in the rural rolling hills and farm fields of eastern Iowa.

 Aeroroot submitted its CD entry to the contest in March. A panel of representatives from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum selected the final 16 bands, which include groups from such corporate giants as NBC, Symantec and Johnson & Johnson. At stake is an opportunity for the band to play in the final competition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 3, 2009.

 Other Aeroroot members include lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier Brand Manager, and Steve Krusie, Director of Public Relations, who plays drums and sings back-up vocals. Tracy Tunwall, formerly Vice President of Human Resources for Frontier – who is now assistant professor at Mount Mercy College – plays bass guitar and also sings back-up vocals.

 Based in Norway, Iowa, Frontier Natural Products Co-op is best known for its broad variety of natural and organic products, including culinary herbs, spices, and seasoning mixes; bulk herbs, spices and teas; and pure aromatherapy products.

 The name Aeroroot comes from the name of the herb arrowroot, one of the natural products Frontier produces. The spelling was changed as a nod to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Aerosmith. “We considered using lungwort, the name of another herb, but decided the images associated with that weren’t very attractive,” quips Krusie.

Formed five years ago during a lunch break in Frontier’s on-site organic café, Aeroroot intended only to provide entertainment for the annual holiday party. The performance was an overwhelming hit and with encouragement from Frontier employees, the band decided to stay together and began playing for charity functions, including fundraisers for the American Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Before heading to L.A. for the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands semifinals, Aeroroot is slated to play its competition music set at 1:00 p.m. on June 13 at the Floodstock Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an outdoor benefit concert to assist in the recovery of the devastating eastern Iowa floods of 2008.

For more information about Frontier Natural Products Co-op, visit www.frontiercoop.com

For more on Aeroroot, see: www.aerorootband.com

The official Facebook page for the competition: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cleveland/FORTUNE-Battle-of-the-Corporate-Bands/48405335963#

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Using (free!) compost to restore flooded yards

 

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

   Stacie Johnson, compost expert extraordinaire, sent me a note about getting flooded yards back in shape. Stacie, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, said owners of flood-damaged homes have been calling the agency about using compost as fill as they begin work on their yards this spring.  Last June’s floods wiped out the vegetation of thousands of homes in Eastern Iowa, especially in the Cedar Rapids area. One caller wanted to put compost 4 inches deep on her lawn, but Stacie advises against using compost as fill or topsoil. The grass might sprout, but would have long-term problems growing. Also, it would make a very soft spot in the yard, as compost is mostly organic matter with little mineral content. 

      The Agency is giving away free compost for Linn County residents and Stacie wants it to be used so it’s most beneficial to these homeowners.

Here is what she says:

    Compost is a good source of soil organic matter and shouldn’t be used as you would topsoil.  The three compost applications recommended by the Solid Waste Agency are mulching, amending and top-dressing.

Mulching: add one inch of compost as a mulch layer, no need to work in and can be topped off with wood mulch for a formal landscape.

 Amending: (most likely the best approach for flood homes)  work one to two inches into the top six inches of existing soil.

 Top Dressing – spread 1/4 to ½-inch layer of compost over existing lawn; best to aerate before top dressing and reseed after.

A rule of thumb for how much compost is needed to complete a project:  square footage x depth x .0031 = cubic yards needed for your soil amendment project.

The agency’s Web site: www.solidwasteagency.org has more information on hours and where you can pick up the compost. The compost is made from the leaves and other natural materials collected in Yardys. It is aged in piles and unwanted materials are removed with a heavy-duty screening machine. The result is rich, dark compost that is great for the soil.

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Rescuing a planet under stress

 

(Left to right) Erin Ely, Nancy Geiger, Bob Loyd and Frank Cicela. Photo from Clipper Windpower

(Left to right) Erin Ely, Nancy Geiger, Bob Loyd and Frank Cicela. Photo from Clipper Windpower

   Through a flood relief effort,  employees of Clipper Windpower have donated more than 750 “green” books to the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City public libraries.

   Clipper employees worldwide, including Clipper Turbine Works in Cedar Rapids, purchased T-shirts with taglines such as “Think Outside The Barrel” and “The Power Of Now” which contributed to the $8,000 in books donated.

    This is from Mary Gates, director of Global Communications at Clipper Windpower, Inc.:

     The book donation, which will jumpstart the library’s recovery, is a ‘green’ collection focused on various aspects of sustainable living. It replaces the collection lost during the disaster. Topics include gardening, permaculture, renewable energy, green building, ecology, culture, politics, community building, conservation, simple living, sustainable business, and a host of other subjects. The collection will include DVDs and audio CDs, as well as titles for young adults and children. 

    In making this donation possible, Clipper partnered with the Sustainable Living Coalition, a Iowa based non-profit organization dedicated to implementing innovative solutions for sustainable initiatives. In turn, the Sustainable Living Coalition secured discounted pricing from two book publishers – Chelsea Green and New Society Publishers – on more than 450 titles for the collection. 

    Among the more well-known titles is a book by Lester R. Brown called Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress & a Civilization in Trouble.  In his book, Brown outlines a stabilization plan for the climate without hampering economic progress. A few of the others are the Chelsea Green Guide to Composting, Going Solar, Forest Drinking Water and Lost Language of Plants

    The donation is among Clipper’s continuing Cedar Rapids flood relief efforts.  Just last year, Clipper matched funds raised by employees, and received donations from friends and suppliers totaling $175,000 in support of the company’s impacted employees and their families.

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