It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, to say the least, and the challenges continue as The University of Iowa recovers from the flood of 2008. But the waters that washed through campus revealed a powerful sense of community to inspire the work that lies ahead.
Professionals and volunteers alike responded at the first sign of danger. Departmental divisions dissolved, run-of-the-mill rivalries gave way to shared purpose, and our University community banded together.
Guided by a Flood Emergency Response Plan and lessons learned from the record flood of 1993, teams from across the University adapted to a rapidly shifting set of circumstances. Rainfall and river projections continued to swell, and it was clear the campus faced an unprecedented threat.
While UI leaders and facilities experts launched plans to keep people safe, protect at-risk resources, and maintain essential operations, others answered the call for help wherever needed.
Students took up shovels and sandbags, building temporary levees—then returning to build them higher as water levels rose. Faculty formed book brigades at the Main Library, passing delicate documents hand-to-hand, piece-by-piece, to higher ground. Colleagues on the arts campus—where the threat was most dire—scrambled to save artwork, props, musical instruments, and more.
National Guard troops contributed their equipment and expertise. State and federal officials arrived to assess the scene. Neighbors from nearby communities appeared, voicing a common refrain: “I just want to help.”
And once we’d done all we could to prepare, we huddled for the equally tough task of waiting out the waters.
Those waters are receding now, and the ingenuity and drive that guided flood preparations now power the recovery. The UI community is welcoming students back to class, rebuilding research projects, finding new homes for displaced programs, and putting its skills to work in ways we might never have expected.
The campus is cleaning up and moving on. As we work our way forward, the scenes from June 2008 remind us what we’re truly capable of.
UI Flood Recovery Site
Latest UI Flood News
UI Flood Relief Fund
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