U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced $30 million in federal aid on April 9 to help Iowa recover from the devastating floods of 2008, pushing the total amount given to the state to $4 billion.
The grants will used to raise a bridge and street along the Iowa River, which spilled over its banks during the floods, and relocate a wastewater treatment plant in Iowa City. Other projects include moving Columbus Junction’s wastewater plant out of a flood plain and rebuilding Shenandoah’s storm sewer system.
“There is little government or anyone can do to fully heal the trauma the rains brought two years ago. But let’s also remember the rains brought out the best in people because as the rain poured down, small armies of neighbors were helping each other,” Locke said.
Locke was joined by Gov. Chet Culver, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and other state and city officials during the grant announcement at the University of Iowa’s new boathouse. Built along the Iowa River last fall, the project was halted during the floods and redesigned to better withstand future flooding.
The floods damaged about 40,000 homes, including about 3,000 that were destroyed, and affected thousands of businesses, Culver said. The new grants pushed to $4 billion the amount Iowa has received in flood recovery aid, he said.
“That is a lot in helping us fully recover, but we know we have a ways to go,” Culver said.
Iowa City will get $25 million to raise Dubuque Street, a thoroughfare that runs along the Iowa River, raise a bridge that spans the river and relocate a wastewater treatment plant that was closed during the 2008 flood.
Another $2.9 million will go to Columbus Junction, where the Iowa and Cedar rivers join, while $232,000 will go to Shenandoah in southwest Iowa, Locke said. Dubuque will get $1.5 million to build a multilevel parking garage with outlets for electric vehicles.
The announcement followed a tour of the boathouse, which includes sealed concrete floors and walls with multiple layers of gypsum and plaster. That allows for the building interior to be washed after flood waters recede rather than having to be replaced, said Rod Lehnertz, director of planning for facility management at the university.
The boathouse, home to the university’s women’s rowing team, also has flood vents to allow flood waters to flow out when waters recede. Concrete outside the building is designed to allow rainfall to permeate the ground rather than run into the adjacent river, he said.
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