The city of Cedar Rapids has spent more than a half a million dollars on emergency flood protection during the month of September. There was virtually no damage from the recent flood scares, but there’s a still a cost.
Cedar Rapids spent about $600,000 to stave off the impacts of two recent flood events, around $300,000 per each event, according to a city spokesperson. The funding helped to plug storm sewer systems, close roads and boat ramps, assemble portable HESCO barriers and pay staff to monitor water levels around the clock.
Czech Village / New Bohemia Main Street District Executive Director Jennifer Pruden says the flood scares were nerve-wracking for business owners in the city's low-lying neighborhoods, who spent their days refreshing the National Weather Service's online flood projections. But she says the city's protections are shielding businesses that would see impacts otherwise.
“Usually when it would get about to that 17 foot mark we would start to get some water that would come in, kind of seeping up through the ground in the southern area of New Bohemia and in parts of Czech Village," Pruden said. "There are now gates that close off the river from going up into the storm sewer system and helps to prevent that water from seeping through."
Due to the temporary measures put in place and permanent structural changes to the city's storm water management, Pruden says flood-prone neighborhoods have a little more breathing room.
“That really has changed dramatically," Pruden said. "Now we really feel like we can hold off for a little bit higher.”
On September 26th the river crested at 17.94 feet in Cedar Rapids, below the 20 foot level that officials consider a major threat. But according to National Weather Service historical data dating back some 150 years, the event still qualifies as the 14th highest crest on record.