In September of 2016, Eastern Iowa learned it would face another historic flood event. Community members leapt to action to protect their neighborhoods and assets.
Citizens, businesses and nonprofits quickly began to organize – evacuating their belongings and moving materials and inventory to higher ground. The City of Cedar Rapids put up HESCO barrier and sandbagging stations popped up to assist the potentially affected areas.
As we prepared for the worst, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation activated the Flood Fund 2016 to begin accepting charitable contributions to assist nonprofits serving flood-impacted individuals and
households. Private philanthropy would be necessary in flood recovery to fill gaps in funding provided by government entities and first responders.
We were ready. Fortunately, the barriers held and the Cedar River crested lower than expected, meaning that immediate damage was minimal. Still, nonprofit organizations and small businesses located within the flood zone experienced evacuation expenses and lost revenue; and nonprofits saw an increase in the need for their services. Homeowners and renters in the flood evacuation zone incurred unplanned costs as they readied their homes and secured their belongings to withstand the water.
In the weeks after the flood, information was gathered regarding community needs and the Community Foundation responded by opening two additional funds to assist with expenses and revenue losses during flood recovery, evacuation and clean-up. The Nonprofit Recovery Fund 2016 was established to assist flood-impacted nonprofits; and the Jobs and Small Business Recovery Fund 2016 was established in partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, the Small Business Development Center to assist small businesses.
The Community Foundation is currently receiving contributions; and the process of distributing funds to small businesses and nonprofits is underway.