CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The floods of 2008 rank among the largest disasters to ever strike the U.S. More than $800-million of federal disaster assistance was made available to Iowa.
Floodwaters of the Cedar River inundate the National Czech & Slovak Museum in June 2008. (KCRG-TV9/The Gazette)
In the years since, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on flood recovery efforts, and you can see that in new construction and development.
The flood's 31.12 foot crest was the highest ever recorded for the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids -- about 20 feet above flood stage. Nearly 10 square miles of the city were impacted by flood waters. And the flood displaced around 10,000 people.
When the river returned to its banks, devastation was left behind.
Nearly 42,000 tons of flood debris were removed, and about 1,300 flood-damaged properties demolished.
310 city facilities flooded -- including the downtown fire station, library, and police station. It cost an estimated $500-million to repair and rebuild.
But from that loss came gain.
Downtown Cedar Rapids is abuzz with new business, seeing a renaissance in development.
High rises like the CRST building have created a new skyline. In the Czech Village, a new Czech museum, new places to live, eat and drink. And NewBo, a place once under 13 feet of water, has become one of the hottest places to be in eastern Iowa. Property values there nearly double what they were before 2008.
Protecting it all is the Cedar Rapids Flood Control System currently under development. The $750-million plan calls for flood walls, levees, gates, and more to reduce future flooding risks in the heart of Cedar Rapids.
To date, more than $260-million has been secured, and city, state, and federal officials are pushing for more to ensure the devastation of the 2008 flood stays a memory.