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More Flood Protection Coming To CR

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- On Tuesday, president Obama signed a $12.3 billion-dollar infrastructure bill. The measure will fund 34 projects nationwide including a $73 million dollar appropriation for a flood protection project in Cedar Rapids.

The news comes as the area approaches the 6th anniversary of the 2008 flood. Many words come to mind when residents look back at the event.

Very devastating, still don't believe it, says Linda McConnell, Owner of Basket Boutique in downtown. Cedar Rapids.

After a bi-partisan effort towards this infrastructure bill, and the president's name etched on the piece of legislation, there's only one word that comes to mind here in Cedar Rapids - finally.

Stopping a flood isn't a miracle, says Melanie Primasing, owner of Simply Divine Candy. Getting Republicans and Democrats to agree - that's your miracle.

With so much damage done 6 years ago, some say politics had to be put aside - it had to get done.

It's no longer a question of if we're getting flood protection, says Mayor Ron Corbett. We're getting flood protection.

Corbett says its been a long 6 years.

It's been a long process that we had - shake a lot of hands, lobby a lot of legislators, talk to various staff members, he says. With the president's signature today, we're moving forward.

The 73 million provided by the feds Tuesday is designated for the East side of the river only. However, the 263 million dollars the city received from the state last year for flood protection will supplement it.

Bottom line- both the east and west side of the river will get protection.

Its the only way it will work, Primasing says. You can't cover one side of the river and not the other.

As for what that protection will look like, the Mayor says it will be a combination.

"Its going to be about 7 1/2 miles of flood protection on both sides of the river, Corbett says. Some of that will be earthen leveessome of it will be permanent walls, and others will be removable walls."

The news means a lot to Primasing and McConnell. Both of their businesses were gutted by the flood.

Completely wiped us out, there was no candy store, Primasing says. We had to start over from scratch.

Both eventually bounced back stronger than ever.

I just have too much fun doing this, this isn't workit's fun, Primasing says.

They say the promise of protection may cause others to join in on the fun as well.

People realize we have flood protection, they may be willing to come downtown and start a business, McConnell says.

Corbett says the project will take time - as it will be built in seven or eight phases. The Army Corps of Engineers will design the protection on the East side, and the city is hiring an engineering group to design the West side. He says the city should start seeing those funding appropriations later this year.
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