Government

Quaker flood wall sparks concerns for Time Check neighborhood

A wall (seen at center) runs along the bank of the Cedar River and Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
A wall (seen at center) runs along the bank of the Cedar River and Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Plans for a $17 million flood wall near Quaker Oats has sparked concern for residents of Time Check, the neighborhood immediately across the river that saw hundreds of homes wiped out during the 2008 flood.

Some lament Time Check takes a back seat as the city invests to prevent flooding, while others fear a larger flood wall across the river would divert more water into the Time Check neighborhood during flooding.

“The city doesn’t seem to be giving too much thought to people over there on the west side,” said Angela Ewing. “Time Check businesses and people on the west side of the river are being forgotten about.”

Ewing and others took to Facebook to express their concern.

Dustin Meyers wrote, “Sure let’s protect a company from floods instead of neighborhoods and families!”

Cedar Rapids City Council last week approved a 2,150-foot wall up to 18 feet tall in places, to run from just north of the Quaker property along the east bank of the Cedar River to the edge of the parking lot near B Avenue NE.

The project, which would be complete in 2021, would replace most of an existing sheet piling wall Quaker erected after the 2008 flood.

This is the first phase of a multiphase plan to protect the industrial area north of downtown Cedar Rapids where hundreds of people work. The north industrial section is identified as the No. 3 priority in flood control in Cedar Rapids.

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Rob Davis, the Cedar Rapids flood control manager, poked holes in some of the fears. First, the existing sheet piling wall protects against a 100-year flood, and until later phases are completed the new wall also would only protect against a 100-year flood, he said.

“The impact is negligible,” Davis said, noting the Army Corps of Engineers’s hydraulic model showed no rise on the west side during a 100-year flood. “We didn’t rerun the model for this project, but know Quaker’s impact will be negligible because the floodwaters will get behind the Quaker wall above the 100-year level, and the river will act like the wall doesn’t exist at the very extreme floods like for 2008 flood.”

Neighborhood leaders defended the city prioritizing the industrial section above Time Check, which has seen most of the homes closest to the river demolished and turned into grassy lots.

Al Pierson, who owns Pierson’s Flower Shop and Greenhouses on Ellis Boulevard NW, said while people are disappointed Time Check is not at the top of the list, it is reasonable to protect Quaker Oats first given its importance. Some feared Quaker might leave after the 2008 flood, he said.

Pierson said he doesn’t feel this way, but some in Time Check feel like the ugly step child. Pierson said he is not concerned about the Quaker wall negatively impacting Time Check, and he is confident the city will protect Time Check.

“There’s sour grapes from people who don’t think we are getting a fair shake,” Pierson said.

Don Taylor, a member of Trinity Church in the Time Check neighborhood, said he understands building at Quaker first because residents in the neighborhood don’t have the same financial capacity. He also doesn’t believe the Quaker flood wall will create more problems.

“I’m concerned we don’t have protection on the west side of the river, but I don’t know the Quaker wall has much impact on my concern.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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