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CR Asking State for Flood Protection Funding

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- The city of Cedar Rapids is looking to the state to help pay for flood protection. The city council is preparing to submit an application to the flood mitigation program -- using state sales taxes growth over the next 20 years to partially fund the project.
Amanda White with the village meat market remembers the devastation of 2008.
"Roofs crashed into trees, everything had turned into garbage, all their possessions on the street waiting to be picked up," White said.
A few doors down, Antique store owner Ken Lewis also remembers.
"A devastating mess....dirty, muddy, smelly," Lewis said. "It was not very pleasant."
When you nearly lose everything you ever worked for, how can you forget?
"You can say the words, but there's no way to describe how you feel about that," Lewis said.
That was 2008, and he says the community has rallied ever since.
"Im not the only business owner that's worked hard to bring the Czech Village back," Lewis said.
To keep it that way, many say flood protection, like the type proposed by the city, is crucial.
"$264 million dollars from the state to help us with this very needed project," said Joe O'Hern, Cedar Rapids Executive Administrator of Development. "That would allow us to complete flood protection on both sides of the river.
Previous to this, residents on the west side say much of the talk has focused on protection for the east side, including a project from the Army Corp of Engineers.
People like Lewis felt they were left hanging.
"They thought it wasn't worth it or something, the property values weren't enough," Lewis said.
Knowing personally the gap between prosperity and disaster is only as wide as the Cedar River, he's ready to see that protection.

"Hopefully it will protect us from the next miserable flood that wants to come in and wash us away."
This funding would provide a large chunk of the $570 million needed for total protection. The city is also securing funding from the federal government as well. City leaders will present to the flood mitigation board on the 21st, and a decision on the funding could be made by the end of the year.

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