Cedar Rapids Commemorates Anniversary of Devastating Iowa Flood

June 12, 2009

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, June 12 /PRNewswire/At 10 a.m. on Saturday church bells will mark the one-year anniversary of one of the largest disasters in U.S. history based on damage to public facilities. On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River crested at 31 feet and flooded 10 square miles of the center of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I’m sure most Americans don’t realize that the 2008 flood was this devastating,” said Kay Halloran, Cedar Rapids Mayor. “I hope the nation doesn’t forget that Cedar Rapids is still in need of billions of dollars to recover.”

During a commemoration ceremony on the banks of the Cedar River this Saturday, flowers will be placed in the water in memory of the dreams and hopes that were washed down the river.

“While we’ve made enormous progress in 12 months, we will not be satisfied until we find solutions for every flood-impacted resident in Cedar Rapids,” said Jim Prosser, city manager of Cedar Rapids. “Our neighborhood planning, community involvement, business recovery and volunteering are at very high levels — but we are going to need so much more state and federal funding to fully recover.”

The City of Cedar Rapids estimates it needs $3 billion in city funding for flood recovery: $1.5 billion for housing buyouts, demolitions, replacement housing, housing rehabilitation, infrastructure repair and neighborhood plans; $1 billion for flood walls; and $500 million for city facilities. As of today, the city has secured roughly $81 million from the state of Iowa and federal government.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Wednesday allocated $517 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the state of Iowa to be used for flood recovery. The newest allocation brings Iowa’s total to $800 million from CDBG and $66 million from the state Jumpstart program. The CDBG allocation to Cedar Rapids has not been determined.

“Despite more than 300 city facilities suffering severe water damage and nearly all city government displaced, the city never closed,” said Halloran. “One-half billion dollars is needed to repair our city buildings.”

More than 5,000 homes were flood damaged. As of today, 1,041 residents have registered for buyouts. It will take $200 million to buy out and demolish up to 1,300 homes.

There are signs of progress throughout the flooded area: nearly 85 percent of businesses have returned; a record number of building permits have been issued; 81,000 tons of debris has been removed (that is the equivalent to hauling a giant cruise ship filled with 1,500 elephants to the landfill); and nearly three miles of temporary barriers have been purchased to reinforce current levees. A clear vision and plan have been formulated for the city as well.

“Our plans will guide our $3 billion investment to build a greater Cedar Rapids,” said Prosser. “Coordinating funding sources, the needs of families, business and neighborhoods, and the desires of our next generation takes monumental and unprecedented planning and vision.”

SOURCE City of Cedar Rapids

Source: newswire

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