116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - With both major party presidential candidates in town Friday, Cedar Rapids officials used the opportunity to press for federal help in building a flood protection system.
At an afternoon rally, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton vowed to do what she could to help protect Cedar Rapids from flooding.
'As president, I will do everything I can to make sure we do more to protect Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa from flooding and natural disasters,” Clinton said at the beginning of her rally outside the NewBo City Market. 'How many times do you have to go through this until we all say, ‘Hey, let's get together and make the changes we need to make sure you don't get devastated again.”
In a short evening rally at the McGrath Amphitheatre, Republican nominee Donald Trump didn't mention the topic.
Both candidates held rallies at sites that were evacuated last month.
Cedar Rapids has been hit by the two worst flooding events in recorded history in the past eight years, including sustaining $2.4 billion in damages to homes, businesses and public infrastructure after the river crested at more than 31 feet in June 2008. Last month, the Cedar River crested at nearly 22 feet, forcing the city to hastily erect a temporary barrier that warded off severe damages.
The city has designed a $625 million flood control system, but it hinges on getting federal money.
Cedar Rapids successfully lobbied to get $70 to $80 million authorized by Congress, but the money has never been allocated in the federal budget or released by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Clinton and Trump campaigns denied a request for one-on-one interviews with The Gazette to answer questions about the funds.
Clinton's campaign issued a statement. It stopped short of guaranteeing the flood system would be built if Clinton is elected, but reiterated her pledge to local leaders to be there 'every step of the way as the city builds the flood protection system it needs.”
'At the same time, Secretary Clinton wants to better organize the federal government as a whole to support communities like Cedar Rapids in building resilience to more frequent and severe flooding and other impacts of climate change that we know we can't avoid,” an aide said, adding Clinton believes agencies should get creative with 'flexible funding streams they already have.”
The aide called on Congress to appropriate money for the request for Cedar Rapids.
Trump's campaign, which had been provided the same questions on Thursday, did not respond to The Gazette.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, City Council members Ann Poe and Justin Shields, and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz met briefly with Clinton before she took the stage Friday, reminding her of the importance of federal help.
Corbett later met with Trump momentarily after his rally, off to the side of the stage.
'I just mentioned we need flood protection for Cedar Rapids,” Corbett said. 'He didn't say anything specifically about it. He just said, ‘Yeah, I understand.' It was very noisy. Hard to have a private conversation, but I had a chance to lay it on the table.”