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“We are protected. And it’s a really good feeling:” Business owners glad to see progress on permanent flood control system

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 10:26 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The city of Cedar Rapids is still working on its permanent flood control system with several projects set to wrap up next year.

A few weeks ago, construction on the 16th Avenue rolling floodgate was finished on the east side of the Cedar River. The floodgate on 16th Avenue is the first rolling gate of the City’s permanent flood control system to be finished. One nearby restaurant says they’re relieved to finally have walls up between them and the river.

Tornado’s Grub and Pub is in downtown Cedar Rapids. With its low-lying location, Tornado’s took on major damage in the flood of 2008 and, also in 2016, when it was outside of the HESCO barriers used to protect the rest of Newbo. General Manager Thomas Slaughter said the finished gate brings a welcome sense of security.

”We had almost 13 feet of water in ’08, so we know that flooding is very real, and to see that wall and levee complete and be on the right side of it is a good feeling,” Slaughter said.

Rob Davis, the city’s flood control program manager, said there are several more projects set to be completed in 2021. A floodgate on the 3rd Avenue bridge, underground sewer gates in Czech Village, and a floodwall at the McGrath Amphitheater.

”We’ll now have a storage area, a restroom, and a floodwall extension. So that will really improve the flood resiliency as well as the experience over at the Amphitheater,” Davis said.

Davis said the flood control system timeline is still on track, despite the pandemic and all the work from the derecho cleanup.

”You know right now we’re about 1/6th of the way done, so we’ve got a long way to go but we think people are really seeing it now as a flood control system,” Davis said.

Back at Tornado’s, Slaughter said he’s looking forward to seeing even more progress downtown. Now, he feels confident they won’t have to pack things up the next time the Cedar River floods.

”We are protected. And it’s a really good feeling. We’re excited for the future, and to feel safe in doing so,” Slaughter said.

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