City, consulting firm set sights on single flood prevention option - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

City, consulting firm set sights on single flood prevention option


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - The city of Cedar Rapids could soon decide on what strategy it will use, to protect its buildings and citizens from future floods.

The Massachusetts-based firm Sasaki Associates unveiled three flood-prevention options last month, but with the city's helped have narrowed those down to one. "It's going to cost a lot of money, and it's going to be a long process," said Jason Hellendrung, the firm's principal. Hellendrung says the project's total cost will total around $1 billion. The plan would turn many areas within a few blocks of the Cedar River, back into a floodplain, or what the firm is calling "greenways."

That idea sits well with Harold Walton of the Czech Village neighborhood. His house sits within a couple of hundred feet of the river's edge. "The situation, as bad as it's gotten, it would be better to turn it into a green area," he said.

But Walton wonders if another component of the plan, which would create man-made levees along parts of the river, will work. The levee would stand about 42 inches tall, with piers built on top that could hold removeable sections of flood wall. With those installed, it would make the levee 12 to 15 feet high in some areas. "It might be a plus, but they won't know until they try it, you know?"

Homes that fall into the converted floodplain areas would be bought, and their owners relocated with the city's help. Frank King, who is president of the neighborhood assocation in Time Check, hopes the city won't forget about homes on the dry side of the proposed levy. "Are they ultimately going to be bought out at some point? Can they move on with their lives?"

But Hellendrung says Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) funds would be put toward redeveloping the heavily-damaged neighborhoods on the protected side of the floodwalls.

The city council will likely make a final vote on the project next month, but it could be another 3 to 4 years before any construction begins. The public will have another chance to offer their input on the plan at an open house next week.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith


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