CEDAR RAPIDS — If 2018 taught Cedar Rapidians anything new, it was that flood events along the Cedar River are becoming a common occurrence, and that they don’t come cheap.
Three separate flooding episodes in September and October — the Cedar River crested downtown at 15.55 feet on Sept. 10, 17.94 feet on Sept. 26 and 14.67 feet on Oct. 14 — have been estimated to cost the city nearly $1 million to build sandbag walls, stage pumps, block drain intakes and cover staff overtime pay.
Officials have said this year’s flooding, as well as 2016’s deluge and the devastating flood of 2008, underscore the city’s need for permanent flood protection. A flood control system has been estimated at $550 million, or $750 million when considering inflation over 20 years.
In July, the Army Corps of Engineers announced the approval of $117 million to help cover flood protection costs.
The city has spent about $61 million so far on flood protection.
All told, the city has lined up nearly $400 million in state and federal funding for levees and flood walls.
To meet the gap in funds, the city has proposed a 10-year property tax levy increase of 22 cents per $1,000 in property value. That is an additional $18 for an $150,000 home.
The levy — the city’s first in a decade — would allow the city to issue $200 million in bonded debt over the next 10 years.
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