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Floods of 2008: Five Years Past and the Progress Continues

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Today marks the fifth anniversary of the floods of '08 in Cedar Rapids.

This is what the city looked like five years ago when the Cedar River crested nearly 20 feet above flood stage.

 Folks gathered at May's Island to remember the occasion with a moment of silence.

It was also a day to commemorate the progress the city has seen since the floods as most of the recovery projects are either finished or in the works.

Five years ago the Veterans Memorial building was the epicenter of the flood.

lt's also that last remaining, major facility to recover from that flood, but it's about to get a new lease on life.

It was a day to celebrate progress and remember the devastation of 2008.

"I’m touched and I’m thankful. I'm thankful for how far we've all come,” said President and CEO of The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Gail Naughton.

As first responders and community leaders shared their stories about the flood and the growth since, the Veterans Memorial building is a reminder of what was lost.

"City offices including the mayor and council chambers and what was known as city hall was inside the Veterans Memorial building for that entire time,” said building executive director, Mike Jager.

Until the flood, and the waters which flooded the entire first floor.

Now, like the city around it, it’s coming back to life.

"We hope for it to be a nexus and hub for business and small business startup and community gathering.” Jager said.

Instead of being city hall, it's an office building, but it will also have a ball room with commercial catering.

Still, like the city saw a few weeks ago, there's always a possibility of another flood.

"We have a flood door in our building we have moved a lot of equipment up and out of harm's way should it ever flood,” Jager said.

Like its neighbor just down the river, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, it's time to look ahead, not back.

“I think all that strength is not just going away. You're going to use it and you're going to do bigger and better,” Naugton said.

The building is set to open three weeks from today, on the fourth of July.

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