Public Safety

News Track: Linn County prepped for flooding

A pump sprays water into the Cedar River from Mays Island in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Mar. 18, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A pump sprays water into the Cedar River from Mays Island in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Mar. 18, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Background

CEDAR RAPIDS — In the fall of 2016, the Cedar River reached flood levels second only to the historic 2008 flood.

Damage caused by the nearly 22-foot crest in Cedar Rapids was relatively minimal compared to flooding that occurred eight years earlier. All told, Linn County was designated a little more than $731,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the 2016 event.

One of the more notable impacts of the flood was damage caused to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office on Second Avenue SW.

In 2016, the building took on water as groundwater seeped back into the storm sewers and eventually into the basement. County officials cut holes into the basement floor to install sump pumps to mitigate water damage.

The following year, in 2017, the Linn County Board of Supervisors approved a $464,000 contract for repairs and flood mitigation to the sheriff’s office. Work also included some accessibility updates to the parking lot and building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What’s happened since

Garth Fagerbakke, Linn County facilities director, said work on the building has since been completed and still is awaiting its first official test.

Despite cresting at around 18 feet earlier this week, the Cedar River has not yet touched the county’s new protections, Fagerbakke said.

“Everything is dry and perfect. Really we didn’t have to test our mitigation efforts that we installed,” he said Wednesday.

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He did note that it’s still very early in the year, so the county will remain prepared in case the river starts to rise again.

The National Weather Service earlier this year reported that Eastern Iowa has a higher-than-usual flood risk this spring.

Like many in Eastern Iowa, Fagerbakke said he will be ready.

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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