WASHINGTON, D.C. – At her request, today U.S. Senator Joni Ernst met with the head of the United States Army Corps of Engineers to discuss and urge the prioritization for funding the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project, as well as the outstanding Cedar Falls 408 permitting request for levee and floodwall system improvements.
Following the meeting, Senator Ernst stated:
“I am grateful for the Army Corps of Engineers’ time today. I emphasized the issues Iowa faces with the benefit to cost ratio formula and how it is imperative that the Corps not overlook the values of life and property in Iowa. I made clear to the Corps that Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and their concerns matter just as much as the concerns of those who live in our nation’s largest cities and along the coasts.”
“Overall, it was a productive meeting with the Corps. They assured me they will be following up with me by the end of January 2017 after taking a closer look at the cost and benefit issues in Iowa and after examining if there are other potential opportunities to secure the funding Cedar Rapids deserves. I look forward to hearing more soon.”
“The Corps also assured me that the 408 permit application Cedar Falls submitted has an anticipated final approval of April 2017. I plan on holding them accountable to make sure this permit is approved in a timely manner.”
Eight years have passed since Cedar Rapids endured the 500-year flood event in 2008 that devastated the community. Since then, the city worked with the Corps to develop a project to address that flood risk, and worked with Congress to get it authorized. Due to the Corps’ refusal to budget for this project, despite significant public safety concerns, Cedar Rapids experienced another major flood event this year without the needed levee improvements. Iowa Senators Ernst and Grassley have sent two letters to the Army Corps since the flooding this year urging the prioritization of the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project, and both letters have gone unanswered.
Additionally, after the same historic flood in 2008, Cedar Falls identified levee and floodwall system improvements that needed to be made. The city submitted a 408 permit application in May 2015 after three years of navigating the complexities of Army Corps process. While the city has the funds in place to construct this vital flood protection, they have since been forced to spend emergency dollars on preventative measures while they wait for the permit to be approved by the Army Corps.