Cedar Rapids officials meets with Army Corps commander

Corbett said new justification report may be needed

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Army Corps of Engineers has sent “huge pumps” to help fortify the city’s temporary flood protection system, Mayor Ron Corbett said Monday.

In the event of a breach, the four pumps would supplement existing water pumps to shoot water busting through to the dry side of the temporary barrier back into the river, Corbett said. The pumps could help buy time to repair the protection system if there is a fracture.

Corbett met with Col. Craig Baumgartner, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District, and other Corps personnel in Cedar Rapids.

“We focused on the incident at hand, to shore up the temporary system,” Corbett said.

Corbett said they did not discuss at length the city’s desire for help with a permanent flood protection system.

During a morning briefing, Cedar Rapids officials stressed the $5 to $6 million worth of flood protection measures installed in the past few days are only temporary. A permanent flood protection system estimated somewhere between $500 and $625 million still is needed, they said.

Congress authorized $73 million for a flood protection system in 2014, but the Corps has not released the funds. The money is critical to match and unlock promised state funding.

Eight years after the 2008 flood, Cedar Rapids has barely started on the protection system.

Cedar Rapids is competing for money with other communities devastated by disasters, and the Corps has contended the White House budget has allocated enough money to go around. The Corps produced a justification report after the 2008 flood backing the Cedar Rapids project, but a new report may better position Cedar Rapids.

Despite the lack of a permanent system, Corbett defended the Corps.

“They are just as frustrated about not receiving federal funding,” he said.

For all of The Gazette's Flood 2016 coverage, please visit our flood coverage center.

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