Coralville highlights flood protection measures, 10 years after - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Coralville highlights flood protection measures, 10 years after historic flooding

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In Johnson County, nearly 800 homes and 260 businesses were damaged by flood waters in the summer of 2008, in what ended up being the most severe flood in the county's history.

On Monday, the city offered guided bus tours to highlight the impact the flood on the community and what was done afterward to prevent it from happening again.

It was on June 15, 2008, that the Iowa River crested 31.53 feet, close to six and a half feet over over the major flood stage of 25 feet.

"None of us could believe what was happening," Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth recalled, after the Army Corp of Engineers warned the city that despite best efforts, the city would flood worse than it did in 1993.

Today, there are few visual reminders of the decade-ago destruction.

"We had 273 acres of ground impacted in the city of Coralville, 420 households and 200 businesses were impacted, we sustained damages of $21 million of commercial damages," Coralville City Engineer Dan Holderness said during the bus tour.

Yet, Holderness points out that the evidence is everywhere, through the work the city has done since that historic day. The tour was the city's reminder to its residents of the work that has been put in. 

When Iowa's rivers rose once again in 2016, Hayworth said that caused confusion amongst the community.

"People had no idea what protections were put in place. They were wondering, where's the sandbags? Well, we didn't need sandbags in places we did before. So, it's a constant effort that we have to educate people about what's been done," he said.

A key focus from city leaders was creating a way to install flood walls and berms that extends all along the Iowa River and Clear Creek.

"We spent a lot of money. $73 million in grants plus local dollars and some redevelopment dollars to create this flood system which we think will provide a much higher level of protection than we've had in the past," Holderness said. "So, we just want to make people aware of that and make sure that they're confident that we are on top of this."

Several flood pump stations were also constructed along the river.

The city practices putting up the flood walls once a year. All of the flood protection improvements Coralville has since made were built to protect one foot above the 2008 water levels.

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