Flood Protection funding gets 'Green Light' in CR

It’s been a long ten years waiting for the federal dollars to help pay for permanent flood protection from the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids. But with a signing ceremony late Tuesday, that commitment was finally signed, sealed and delivered.

Cedar Rapids city manager Jeff Pomeranz, Mayor Brad Hart and Col. Steven Sattinger, Rock Island District Commander sign the document to authorize federal flood protection funding in Cedar Rapids. The city has worked to get this funding for 10 years, since the flooding in 2008.

At a special city council meeting, city leaders and a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formalized the Flood Control System Project Partnership Agreement. That document spells out how much both the federal government and the city must pay towards flood protection that was originally estimated to cost $750-million dollars over 20 years.

The first push for federal dollars to help pay for berms, flood walls and other protection came shortly after the devastating flooding in 2008 that caused billions of dollars in damage.

Nothing happened for years and after another flooding close call in 2016, there was a renewed push for federal funding.

That was ultimately successful with an agreement announced last summer.

But it wasn’t a done deal until the mayor, city manager and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official from Rock Island, Illinois signed the agreement committing $117-million dollars in federal assistance.

City leaders said it took a lot of work by a lot of people to get to the official signing.

Rob Davis, Cedar Rapids flood control projects manager, said even though state and local dollars will amount to larger totals the federal participation was a key part of the plan.

“It’s the missing part, the third leg of the stool. We’ve got the city funding, the state funding and the third leg of the stool was the federal funding,” Davis said.

The federal government portion can only be used to build protection on the east side of the Cedar River. That’s due to federal rules about the value of property being protected.

But the city council has adopted a plan to build protection on the west side with other dollars at the same time.

Davis says the city must use the federal money within five years.

He says the first projects involving federal dollars should start next summer.