Did you hear it last weekend? A symphony of chainsaws hard at work across our city, racing to meet today’s critical deadline for free, curbside derecho tree debris pick up. I worked side by side with neighbors in three of our four quadrants this weekend cleaning up, trying to beat the calendar. In typical Cedar Rapids CAN-DO spirit, we got to work. Heck, we’ve been here before, right?
Actually, no. This feels different from the response from our last catastrophic event, the Floods of 2008. Imagine if our City decided nine months into flood recovery, that it was done. How much longer would it have taken us? What would neighborhoods like Time Check look like today? Worse yet, how many of us would have thrown up our hands, and left. As it is, we’re 13 years into it and still working at it.
And with the derecho, nearly no property was spared. It feels like every property in this city saw damage. 60% of our tree canopy is gone, and a majority of that is on private property. As I see it, there is a crystal clear role for city government in times of crisis: take care of your people.
As I mentioned on KWWL this morning, free debris pick up means a swifter, cost-effective, convenient way for our neighbors to move on from this. It is critical that we put the derecho in the rear view mirror so we can move forward, together.
We need leadership to guide this and make it happen.
We need a comprehensive, measured plan that ensures ALL Cedar Rapidians have an opportunity to clean up and move on. Will it be easy? No. Will it require creative and strategic thinking? Absolutely. New partnerships between the city and private business?
I tip my hat to the volunteers and non-profits like United Way of East Central Iowa and Waypoint who are providing support for those who need help cleaning up. I’m grateful to the city staff crews who have worked tirelessly to get us this far but there is still so much more work to be done.