Cedar Rapids leaders are unveiling the city’s proposed flood prevention plan which may cost one billion dollars. The plan includes seven miles of protective barriers along the Cedar River, but completion could be ten to 15 years away. Jason Hellendrung, the city’s flood consultant, says citizen input decided which type of flood walls or levees would go in certain places.
Hellendrung says downtown Cedar Rapids could be ringed with a two-foot wide concrete wall, part of which would be removable. He says, "In downtown where we’re pretty tight and pinched with big office buildings, the feedback from the community is that we need to maintain a connection to the river."
Most residential areas along the river will utilize a levee system, an earthen dike anywhere between 12 and 18 feet high. Homeowners who live on the river-side of that barrier would have the possible option of the city buying their property through FEMA funding. Hellendrung says if those residents decide to stay, the city will still move forward with this project.
He says, "There’d be a limit to how much services the city would provide to that in terms of utilities and roads and street cleaning and any of that." Many residents turned out at Wednesday’s meeting to view the plan. Dianna Wicher wanted to know on which side her house would sit, the side closest to the river or the side protective barriers would save.
Wicher says: "Most of us feel like we’re getting the runaround. They tell us they know how we feel. They don’t know how we feel. They didn’t lose anything." She learned that her home would be safe, although she still doubts she can live there. She says it really doesn’t matter, as the levee going in her back yard will separate her from her neighbors and the rest of the city.
Citizens will have a chance to voice their opinions and offer suggestions about the plan on Thursday, October 16, at the Crowne Plaza Center Ballroom from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. and from 4 to 8 P.M.