The city of Cedar Rapids will soon begin the buyout process for more than one thousand property owners affected by last year’s flooding. There are some obstacles to the plan as the city will send out letters Friday to property owners outlining the buyout program but city leaders don’t know how long the process will take.
Councilmember Chuck Wieneke says some of the buyouts are needed to construct new flood protection however residents can choose not to participate in the city’s plan."The city is forcing no one to sell their property and move, even if they’re in the greenway area. This is a voluntary process," Wieneke says.
Some residents could receive a buyout as soon as this summer, others might have to wait several years. That’s because the Army Corps of Engineers is not expected to finalize a plan for future flood protection until next year and the money has not yet arrived.
A city appointed citizens committee will help oversee the process but councilman Tom Podzimek says the group will be a sounding board of voluntary scapegoats. Podzimek says: "They’re gonna complain because we don’t have the money, there’s nothing they can do. They’re going to complain about that timing. They’re going to complain about the method, we’ve discussed this method. There’s just people to complain to, gee wiz."
If residents choose to remain in a home that’s in an area slated for levee construction, the federal government’s Army Corps of Engineers could force them from their property. The proposed buyouts are expected to cost $175-million.
Wieneke says the city has not received any of the necessary funds but he says when money does arrive it will come from multiple sources including FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.