Peoples' Weather Map


Flood of 2008

Iowa Midland Supply Inc


Iowa Midland Supply, distributor of cutting tools, adhesives, safety equipment and more, has been in business since 1953. In June of 2008, the Stephan’s family business had 16 employees. Iowa Midland Supply was located at 3rd Street and 7th Ave S.E. in a building brothers Craig and Brian Stephan had bought from their uncle. Occupied for 41 years, the building had never been flooded until 2008.

On the ninth of June, 2008, The Cedar Rapids Gazette warned readers that a river crest of 21.5 feet was forecast for their city, topping the 1929 record of 20.01 feet and 2.3 feet higher than the crest during the flood of 1993. “Record Flooding on the Way for Cedar Rapids” the headline announced. Five days later, June 14, 2008, The Cedar Rapids Gazette headline read, “Cedar Rapids Struggles to Grasp Losses.”

The river had crested at 31.1 feet, not 21.5 feet. The downtown was under water. 25 thousand had been evacuated, hundreds by boat. 12 thousand homes in Linn County, alone, were without power. The city’s wells had been overtaken and were pumping at only 25%. Highways 380 south, 30 east, and 965 were all flooded. The early dollar estimate for damages was in the 100s of millions. (An August 27, 2009 article in the New York Times put the damage in Cedar Rapids at 6 billion dollars [Susan Saulny, “After Iowa Flood, Feeling Just a Bit Ignored”].)

As the waters were rising, Craig and Brian Stephan, family and friends, 20 people in all, evacuated the computers and their business records to a building near Coe College, and sandbagged the building at 3rd St. and 7th Ave.S.E. In hindsight, they wish they had just evacuated everything. The Iowa Midland Supply building took on 10 feet of water, extending into their second storey.

In the weeks following the flood, the Stephan’s family and friends did their own clean-up and at first tried to save some of the inventory, but even if the water had not destroyed all the tools, it had scrambled them all and destroyed all the labeling.

After a couple weeks of clean up work, Craig Stephan said later, they had neither the time, money nor inclination to save it all. Some 125 dumploads were taken from the building that the Stephan’s stripped of everything but concrete and steel.


In dollars, the loss ran into the 7 figures. The Stephan’s initially expected to operate the business out of the location near Coe College for a month or two, maybe six months. They were instead out of their building for two years. There were hundred of worse stories than ours, said the Stephan brothers.