When Flood Waters Deluge Mortuary Lift Company, Staff, Friends and Strangers Accomplish the Impossible

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – When the Cedar River overflowed its banks, "business as usual" slid to a halt for Mortuary Lift Company. Hazardous floodwaters brought an immediate police-enforced evacuation of the company's offices and manufacturing facility, stranding on the second floor five body lifts – ordered by customers and scheduled for delivery – along with heavy manufacturing machines. With the entire neighborhood off-limits and guarded by police, the staff of Mortuary Lift faced a threatening challenge: how to get the lifts – designed to lift and move up to 1,000 pounds – out of the building and shipped to customers with minimal delay.

The flood zone was in chaos when Mortuary Lift got clearance from police to re-enter their headquarters in the Cherry Building, three blocks from the river. Facing a window of just eight hours, the staff had to think creatively, move quickly and depend on the brawn of family, friends and strangers. Conditions could not have been worse – power outages meant no lights and no elevator in the historic old building, and as the floodwaters began to recede they left behind a slippery coating of mud. With the same ingenuity that has provided high-quality, dependable body lifts for 50 years, the staff and anyone willing to help went to work. They built a makeshift ramp down the narrow, unlit, slippery backstairs. And despite the odds, they managed to get all five machines from the second floor to ground level.

But the struggle wasn't over. With large trucks banned from the flood zone, the machines had to first be loaded onto pickup trucks and taken outside of the flood zone to waiting semis ready to complete the delivery.

"It truly was an amazing group effort," notes Katie Hill, president of Mortuary Lift. "We were at the mercy of nature, unfavorable conditions, the police and the clock. Employees, friends and people we didn't even know tied ropes to their waists while others held and guided the large equipment down the filthy, stairway – in the dark. It's amazing what people can accomplish together."

Failure to deliver the products could have been a serious blow to the business. Instead, delivery was delayed by just one week to customers who sympathized with the circumstance. Mortuary Lift located temporary work space and within three days of the move their operations were back up and running.

It took five months to restore the historic Cherry Building, but Mortuary Lift Company returned to the building November 7.

For additional information, contact Katie Hill, President, Mortuary Lift Company, 127 Cottage Grove Ave S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA 52403, 800 628-8809, www.mortuarylift.com.