Regional Flood Risk Management Team meets in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Regional Flood Risk Management Team meets in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - The nation's first-ever Regional Flood Risk Management Team met in Cedar Rapids on Thursday. It's a group composed of officials from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Their goal: to create and enact policies that will lead to increased flood protection in the Midwest.

Cedar Rapids' flood recovery director Greg Eyerly says this group has the power to influence policy creation in Washington, D.C., and that will mean equitable flood protection for people in cities both small and large.

"Public safety, of course, is the number one issue, but there's a lot of things that are happening in individual states that we can learn from one another," said Brigadier General Michael Walsh, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He, along with DNR and FEMA officials, are heading up the new group. They plan to ease communication between state and local agencies in the Midwest, in the event of a flood.

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"It's not an isolated incident," said Beth Freeman, FEMA Region VII Administrator. "That's why it's so important that we meet as a region, to start planning on how we're going to be handling these kinds of things, and is there something we can do upstream, small projects all along the way, that can help reduce our flood risk?"

While public safety is the team's top priority, keeping the public informed is also high on the list.

"Do we have the right communications that people understand if they live behind a levee, that there are risks? Do people understand that they should have emergency kits available?" said Walsh.

Eyerly says building permanent flood protection in cities like Cedar Rapids will be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, which is why a team like this is so important.

"Even if we were going to build a flood protection starting tomorrow, that would take us ten to fifteen years to complete," explained Eyerly. "So, a policy change that will help us get that flood protection, if that occurs in the next six to twelve or eighteen months, it still can help Iowa, and this group can help make that change."

The team plans on meeting four times a year. In addition to building permanent flood mitigation and prevention systems, it will also concentrate on watershed management.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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