Years after his son drowned in the storm system, CR father applauds City's improvements

Mark Blake lost his son Logan in 2014, after Logan was thrust into the storm drain system. Now, Blake advocates for safer storm drain inlets, like the one at Midway Drive and Johnson Avenue NW. (CBS2/FOX28)

Thursday, Mark Blake stood at the site of Cedar Rapids' latest upgraded storm drain inlet, complete with brand new safety measures.

"This one looks like it's really come a long way," said Blake, looking at the drain at Midway Drive and Johnson Avenue NW. "It's a great design."

He's an expert on them now, by way of devastating circumstances.

"Today, Logan would be 21," said Blake. In 2014, his oldest son Logan was swept away to his death in a storm drain in Cedar Rapids after going to retrieve a Frisbee.

"That's a mile and a half he was underwater," said Blake. "He couldn't get out, so he went through the whole system."

Since that time, the City has identified 18 sites that needed updated safety measures. To date, six have been completed, leaving twelve still needing improvements.

"The actual cost for putting these inlet safety measures in, is higher than what we'd been budgeting," said Dave Wallace, sewer utility program manager. He says each one has cost between $60,000 and $100,000.

Right now, the public works department s submitting a $2.6 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which will include expanded funding for the storm drain inlet safety measures. The approval process will take place in March, and the budget will be effective in July.

Mark Blake continues to educate others on safety through his non-profit, Project Storm Drain Safety.

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