FEMA, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Disagree on Flood Damage Costs

July 21, 2009

Damage from last year’s record flooding in Iowa is estimated to be between $8 billion and $10 billion, and the total amount of federal disaster money allocated to the state is now more than $3 billion.

Half of that amount is being funneled through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but FEMA and officials in Cedar Rapids are now squabbling over the use of some of that money.

A disagreement is arising between FEMA and Cedar Rapids officials over the cost of flood damage to key city buildings.

Cedar Rapids flood recovery director Greg Eyerly says FEMA applied cost data based on square footage from prior disasters in New Orleans and elsewhere in the South. He says the city’s consulting team used a room-by-room approach in key buildings.

As a result of the differing methods, there is a $100 million gap between the city’s and FEMA’s versions of flood damage.

Eyerly told the Cedar Rapids City Council that it is important the gap be closed in the city’s favor. He said FEMA has agreed to stop using their approach to assessing damage and use the city’s.

Eyerly said he is setting Oct. 31 deadline on which all the damage assessments with FEMA will be completed.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of possible future flooding, firefighters in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, Iowa, have used grant money from Isle Casino Hotel to buy new watercrafts and upgraded equipment.

Waterloo fire officials say they bought an inflatable boat and a custom aluminum boat. They money also paid for trailers, life vests and other equipment.

In Cedar Falls, fire officials say they have two new watercrafts as well.

Crews from both departments tested out the new equipment together during training this past week.

Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, www.wcfcourier.com and The Gazette, www.gazetteonline.com/

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