Linn County gets $731,000 FEMA obligation for 2016 flood

News track: Protective measures - sand barriers, labor, equipment - were largest costs

Water in the swollen Cedar River flows Sept. 27, 2016, past the Linn County Courthouse and the Linn County Jail on May’s Island in Cedar Rapids. Crews placed about 4,500 feet of sand-filled barriers using 4,000 tons of sand to protect Linn County buildings in the flood zone. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County officials last fall scrambled to set up flood barriers to ready for a rising Cedar River.

The river crested at nearly 22 feet — the second highest level on record behind the 2008 deluge — in late September, but the county’s 4,500 feet of sand barriers held strong on May’s Island.

In addition to flood walls, the county evacuated operations from the island and closed nearby county buildings. All told, the county’s courthouse, jail, Sheriff’s Office, Juvenile Justice building and Jean Oxley Public Service Center were closed because of the flood.

Outside of some groundwater in the Sheriff’s Office basement and courthouse, the county’s buildings escaped the flood unscathed.

County officials made assessments of damage and compiled costs to eventually submit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The county’s early damage estimates placed the cost at more than $700,000.

What’s happened since

Earlier this month, Linn County Risk Manager Steve Estenson submitted the final documents to FEMA regarding the September flood.

The total amount obligated for the disaster was a little more than $731,000, according to a May 24 email.

Of that, the county has received about $226,000, with the remaining to be received for protective measures taken before the flood — including sand barriers, labor, equipment and relocation expenses.

“The largest incurred cost would have been preparation and emergency protection measures leading up to and preparing for it. That was by far the most expensive part,” Estenson said. “The cleanup and debris removal, there was some of that, too, but most of it was what you’re doing up to that crest.”

All told, the county expects to receive $557,000 from the federal government and will request $73,000 from the state. The remaining $100,000 will come from the county itself.

The county also has received more than $12,000 in flood insurance so far, the email states.

Estenson said county staff took lessons learned in the 2008 flood to work as efficiently as possible during the 2016 event.

“Having gone through it a few times now, it’s one of those things you don’t maybe want to get good at, but we’re getting good at it,” he said.

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