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Placard Change Confuses Homeowner

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CEDAR RAPIDS -- Cedar Rapids officials re-inspect more than one-hundred flood damaged properties every day. Since the first inspections, they've changed the colored placards on about three to four hundred properties.

The color indicates the damage level. In some cases, homes have become more unsafe. In other situations, conditions have dramatically improved.

The changes have confused some homeowners.

Jeff Gardemann didn't know what to think when he found out inspectors peeled off his purple placard and replaced it with a yellow one.

"It really threw us for a loop. It's like, now what?" he said.

City officials banned anyone from entering houses with purple placards. Gardemann followed instructions and hasn't been inside for the past month. Now, he worries mold has moved in.

"It's just been sitting here getting greener and greener. I'm sure it is. So, I don't really want to go in there and look," he said.

When the water level was at its highest, it was all the way up to the roof of the house which is about fourteen feet off the ground.

Gardemann was planning to demolish his house and use federal disaster money to put an offer on another home. He's not sure what to do now.

City inspectors say placards change for a variety of reasons.

"We recognized the first day out there that we didn't have ideal conditions for our inspectors to do great evaluations of the property," Greg Buelow from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department said.

The first round of inspectors also had more generalized knowledge. The new group has more specialized experience.

"I want citizens to feel comfortable that we did have professionals, and still have professionals and we're re-inspecting the properties and making sure it's safe for them," Buelow said.

Gardemann understands the city's a point.

"I know it's a tough deal. It's going to take time, but we really need to get some answers, some direction," Gardemann said.

While the purple placard left little hope, the yellow one leaves him with nothing but uncertainty.

Placard colors can also change as conditions change, but city officials say it is rare to switch from purple to yellow.

In some instances, standing water inside houses has weakened the foundation over the past few weeks.

In other cases, the water dried up quicker or didn't do as much damage as inspectors expected.

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