New book chronicles devastating 2008 Iowa flood

23 Dec

The cover of Jeff Stein's book on Iowa's 2008 flood.

An anniversary is a commemoration of the date something notable took place. But it’s not necessarily something folks celebrate.

June 2010 will mark the second anniversary of the massive flooding that devastated much of Iowa and parts of other Midwestern states. But no one will be celebrating.

Beginning June 7, 2008, floodwaters ran in portions of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Thirteen people died, and damage was in the billions.

In Iowa, the central part of the state and Cedar Rapids were hardest hit. Two people lost their lives.

A comprehensive new hard-cover book, “One Week in June: The Iowa Floods of 2008,” chronicles the flooding along Iowa’s Cedar and Iowa rivers. The book was written in documentary style by my friend, Jeff Stein, who is professor of communication arts at Wartburg College and the executive secretary of the Iowa Broadcast News Association.

WDG Publishing of Cedar Rapids, whose offices were among those flooded, is the publisher. The book can be ordered for $44.95 plus shipping and handling by calling WDG at (800) 626-0411. It also is available from Barnes & Noble and other stores throughout Iowa.

More information about the book and a sample chapter are available online at

The 144-page book contains more than 200 color images from the communities affected by the floods. Breathtaking aerial shots in particular illustrate the widespread devastation.

“Jeff Stein’s essays, alongside stunning pictures from that week in June, bring back sharp-focus memories of a time that touched all Iowans,” notes Trent Rice, a radio newsman in Ames. “It is a moving testament to those who stood on the front lines of those battles against the water, fighting to save homes, neighborhoods and often, entire towns.”

The pictures and Stein’s narrative encompass the disaster of the Cedar River Valley and form a chronological and geographical look at the Cedar River’s destruction from Charles City southward. Flooding of the Iowa River in and around Iowa City and Coralville is also included, as well as the aftermath in communities south of the confluence of the Cedar and Iowa rivers.

When writing the book, Stein said people didn’t want to talk about their experiences because no one thought what they did was anything special.

“Yet there are countless examples of people going above and beyond to help their neighbors,” he said. “This is really a story of how people rallied together in the face of adversity, responding as only Iowans would do.”

Many say the flood of 2008, coupled with some deadly tornadoes, will be remembered as the worst natural disaster ever to hit Iowa. Our governor, Chet Culver, also has predicted the disaster is likely to go down as one of the top 10 worst natural disasters in United States history. Time will tell.

In his introduction to “One Week in June: The Iowa Floods of 2008,” Stein noted, “The devastation was only one week in the making, but in many cases the recovery will take years.”

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as an “Everyday People”column at The North Scott Press.

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Posted by on December 23, 2009 in Uncategorized


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