The city of Cedar Rapids is awaiting a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to approve an appeal for $13.8-million in disaster assistance for a hydroelectric plant damaged in the 2008 flood. As part of an audit for how FEMA funds have been used in Cedar Rapids, the Office of the Inspector General issued a report stating that the city had provided inaccurate information about the condition of the plant when they appealed for FEMA funding.
Joe O’Hern, an administrator in the city manager’s office, says the city provided the agency with as much information as possible and he believes it was accurate. “We were very exhaustive in our appeal documents,” O’Hern said. “A concern may have been, on their part, that the FEMA Washington staff couldn’t have been expected to look through all the information we provided.”
It will be up to FEMA to decide whether Cedar Rapids will receive this funding, as well as two other appeals still in process. The city has already started work on a parking ramp downtown under the impression that the funds would be available. So, what happens if the federal funding is rejected?
“We would have to find another way to pay for that parking ramp,” O’Hern said. “We’ve entered into contracts with a construction company to build the ramp. So we have to honor those contracts, we have to pay those bills.”
In the report, the Office of the Inspector General said the hydroelectric plant damaged in the 2008 flood was inactive at the time, and therefore ineligible for federal disaster funding. The report recommends that FEMA not pay $13.8-million they have already obligated to the City of Cedar Rapids.