Most recent Cedar Rapids flooding hits sore spot for Northwest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Most recent Cedar Rapids flooding hits sore spot for Northwest siders


Cleanup in Northwest Cedar Rapids is going much quicker than it did in 2008 but the most recent flooding is hitting a sore spot for residents.

"They told me they would never allow something build on the east side without something being built on the west side," said Gary Stansbery, who lives on the Northwest side.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan for flood protection on the east side but not the west. Voters have twice turned down an increase to the city's local option sales tax, which would fund west side protection.

"Our goal has always been to protect to the 2008 flood level," said Ron Corbett, Cedar Rapids Mayor. "We have parts of the community that are protected to the 100 year flood level and parts that aren't."

Even 500 year flood protection won't stop ice dams like these, which caused this week's flooding.

Some flooded areas have become ice rinks because the temperatures have dropped. Northwest siders say say if the city had acted sooner it would be clear by now.

"It's all about the city following the protocol that they have set up for when we get a lot of precipitation in this area and they didn't do that this time," said Sue Wesely, who lives on the Northwest side. "We've had spring thaws and ice jams forever. I would like to know why they didn't open the gates at the 5-1 dam earlier. We could have prevented all of this."

The city says the gates were raised three times.

"You can just lift it like a drawbridge," said Corbett. "It isn't possible from that standpoint."

Officials say they haven't seen an ice jam this bad in more than 30 years. They followed their procedure. It just wasn't enough.

"We base our flood protection, base our flood control on the flow of the river," said Corbett. "The flow of the river wasn't increasing. It wasn't until the ice started to dam up, that's what really backed the water up and caused the flooding."

Northwest siders say if the flooding had happened elsewhere, the city would have reacted sooner.

 "To me it's just, once again, the city hanging our neighborhood out to dry," said Wesely.

Corbett says the city is looking at other ways to fund west side flood protection, since the Army Corps turned down a plan and voters don't want to raise taxes.

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