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Iowa cities rebuild after disasters while preparing for the next one

Natural disasters transform the landscape. Residents of Waterloo, Davenport and Cedar Rapids reflect on work to adapt their towns for a future of more intense, more frequent floods.

One Iowa city has received six Presidential Disaster Declarations over 12 years. In 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011, the City of Dubuque saw flash flooding that filled basements and overwhelmed storm sewers. The Bee Branch neighborhood was particularly hard hit. But far from going underwater, the neighborhood has been the focus of a large flood resiliency project that has ranged from slowing water runoff to surfacing a long-buried Creek.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer hears about how cities have responded and adapted despite flood and hurricane-force winds. Later, we hear about why some environmental advocates are concerned about the reliance on berms and levees to protect cities from river flooding and a Cedar Rapids councilperson discusses the city's work to come back from the 1999 flood and 2020 derecho.


  • Deron Muehring, civil engineer with the City of Dubuque
  • Teri Goodmann, director of strategic partnerships for the City of Dubuque
  • Kathy Wine, executive director of River Action, Inc.
  • Dale Todd, Cedar Rapids City Councilor
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa