As the one year anniversary of the flood in Cedar Rapids approaches, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is beginning a study that will determine whether the federal government contributes money to build permanent flood protection in Cedar Rapids.
The Corps’ Dennis Hamilton toured the "Time Check" neighborhood in Cedar Rapids by boat Friday and spoke with reporters via two-way radio.
"The flooding was pretty deep inside of these homes and the levy alignments we’re looking at would be set back from the river here," Hamilton said.
A reporter asked: "How far back?" and Hamilton said his "best guess" was probably 200 to 500 feet.
Many Cedar Rapids property owners near the river must decide whether they wish to participate in a voluntary buyout program. City leaders say some flood protection can be built to accommodate home owners, but the city may force some people from their homes. According to Hamilton, homeowners have varying opinions about whether their property may flood again.
"Some people feel that their chances of flooding again are reduced and therefore they’re assuming the risk to continue to rebuild and live there," Hamilton said. "And being above the 100 year flood level in some of these areas, they don’t think they need to buy flood insurance."
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Clarke, the commander of the Corps’ Rock Island District, was in one of the boats that toured areas of Cedar Rapids that were swamped by the Cedar River almost a year ago.
"By visiting this site and imagining what 25 feet of water over my head would feel and look like, I’ll not forget that vision anytime soon," he said.
The Corps is expected to complete a draft of its report by July 2010. Building permanent flood protection could take up to 15 years.