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Turning the Lights Back On

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Flash flooding at the beginning of the month meant cutting power to many homes all over the corridor. Now Cedar Rapids and Utility companies are working with residents to turn the lights back on.

On paper, the process is pretty simple. It starts with inspections to get a permit for repairs from the city. Once the repairs are completed by a certified contractor, the city inspects the property one more time before allowing Alliant Energy to send power back into the home.

But for some, its not quite that simple in practice.

"Just make sure you stand back, said Chaz Greenen as he navigated about the sink hole on the side of his house. This is a sand bar, or bank, and it can collapse on in there."

Greenen is a big rig driver with a big problem. It starts with the big hole in the side of his house.

When flash flooding came through A Avenue two weeks ago, Alliant had to kill power up and down the block.

"We shut off the utility service when it's no longer safe to provide utility service to an area, said Alliant Energy Spokesperson Justin Foss.

To turn the lights back on, Chaz knows what he has to do.

"For the utilities, I've got to get a certified electrician in here, said Greenen. Well there isn't a certified electrician around here that's willing to go in there and put in a box, that I've talked to, that's willing to come out here and do it for under ten grand."

He says thats way too high.

On top of that expense, he needs to rebuild the foundation.

"If you don't know someone in these fields, they're just gauging you, said Greenen.

He says quotes just for the foundation, before he even starts with electrical repairs, have been between $40,000-$60,000.

"I'm sorry, I can't afford that kind of money, said Greenen. Not to come right out of my pocket and get my house back up."

The City of Cedar Rapids and Alliant both say its up to homeowners to start the process that gets their power back. For many of Chazs neighbors, theyve already been able to do it. But for the others, like Chaz, who hasnt been able to take any driving jobs while he fixes up his house, meaning he cant earn the money to pay for the repairs, his house isnt the only thin falling into a hole.

"If there ever was a rock and a hard spot, you got it. Right here, said Greenen.

Residents who still need to start the process to restore their utilities are encouraged to call 319-286-5903 to register so that a building inspector can come out to the property to inspect the damage.

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