The Gazette and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art were honored Monday night at the Third Annual Icky Awards, which focus on culture in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.

Paul Jensen shows off The Gazette's Icky Award.

We won for our exhibit of flood photographs, which is the second most popular exhibit of all time at the museum. The photos there are hard to look at, but worth it. We’re proud of the work we did during the June floods, and it’s an honor to be recognized for that.

Paul Jensen shows off The Gazette’s Icky Award.

On Sunday, a site we’ve been working on for more than six months finally launched — iowafloodstories.com.

This year we’ve written hundreds, if not thousands, of stories about the flood and its aftermath. It would take a superhuman effort to keep track of all the things we’ve written about.

That’s where the site comes in. We have information about the properties damaged by the floods and links to all the stories we’ve written about those properties. We have pictures from those properties, as well.

But we know the information we have isn’t complete, and that’s where you come in. You can tell your stories by filling out this form. We’re hoping people will add their stories, so the site will continue to grow, making an even more complete picture of the flood.

Let us know what you think of the site, either by leaving a comment or e-mailing me.

We’ll have a story about the proposal to bring red-light cameras to Cedar Rapids. You can read more about that here and here.

We’ll also have an update on problems with Alliant’s steam system and how that’s affecting downtown.

And we’ll have a story about a flood victim who lost his checkbook and was so distraught about it that he took out a classified ad to get it returned.

As I mentioned last week several times, the staff at The Gazette did a lot of work to cover the six-month anniversary of the June flood. There were excellent stories that looked at not only the impact on government and businesses, but on people, as well.
You can look at all the work done here, including videos and the interactive pieces we’ve produced.

On Sunday, we’ll have our six-month look at the effect the June floods had on Eastern Iowa. That will kick off seven days of stories about the flood. I’ll be posting more about that as the week goes on.

Monday also kicks off seven live chats on GazetteOnline. The schedule will be as follows (all chats from noon to 1 p.m., unless otherwise noted):

Monday: Talk about the things you miss most

Tuesday: Mary Sharp, Rick Smith and Adam Belz talk about covering the flood

Wednesday: Paul Jensen and Lyle Muller talk about the flood book

Thursday: Beth Malicki and Shannon Booth from KCRG talk about covering the flood.

Friday: Doug Neumann, George Ford and David DeWitter talk about biz recovery from noon to 1 p.m. and Steve Buttry will talk about The Gazette’s flood coverage from 1 to 2 p.m.

Dec. 15 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Jim Prosser talks about Cedar Rapids’ recovery

We have a lot planned, so please stop by. The chats will be on GazetteOnline’s front page, so check back each day.

It’s already Thanksgiving week, as hard as that might be to believe. And to kick it off, The Gazette has a couple of items about being thankful, even in difficult times.

The first is a story about how people find the will to continue to be thankful and recognize the good things still in their lives.

It’s been a rough year here in Eastern Iowa. Thousands of people are still wondering when they’ll be able to move back into their homes, and many of them face the prospect of spending the holiday season away from home. But that doesn’t mean there’s been nothing good.

We talked to elementary school students about what they’re thankful for, and we’re asking you the same question. Even in this difficult year, what makes you grateful? You can leave your comments here, or on the stories linked above, or, as always, you can e-mail me.

As I’ve talked about since last Friday, The Gazette has been running a seven-part series on the Cedar River. Jim Slosiarek and Orlan Love. The stories, if you haven’t been following them, have been great, with strong images from Jim and Orlan’s trademark writing style.

But there’s more. On Tuesday, we had a live chat with Jim and we’re planning one for Thursday with Orlan.

And we have a complete multimedia journal of the trip posted here, including an interactive map, photos and video that give a more complete picture of their trip down the river.

We’re doing more and more with multimedia, but this is a great example of how we can take a really strong story and make it even stronger with the right elements.

What do you think of our efforts with this project? Anything that’s missing that you’d like to see?

The day’s big story is the economy. What will the $700 billion bailout mean to you? Will it actually help?

We also have two flood-related stories on the line-up for tomorrow.

The first is the expected decision about Taylor School. The Cedar Rapids Community School Board meets tonight to decide whether to re-open the school.

The second is the fact that with the cost of cleaning up and, in some cases, buying out flood properties, taxes could go up in Cedar Rapids. Reporter Rick Smith looks at the reasons the council gives for that and what it could mean.

There’s an old line that newspapers are the first draft of history, and that’s certainly true. We put out stories long before we know whether they’ll be important in the long run.

But sometimes you can be pretty sure the stories you’re writing will be important. Take June’s flooding. But we’re still writing the first draft. There’s no way of knowing which stories we wrote will matter down the road.

But the stories people have will matter for a long time. So we’ve launched a new Web site dedicated to collecting the stories people have about the June floods in Iowa. If you have a story you’d like to share, you can visit iowafloodstories.com

How else can we make sure there’s a record of what happened with the floods, beyond this project, the upcoming book and the stories we’re writing? If you have ideas, leave them in the comments.