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An Idea That Holds Water

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – The City of Cedar Rapids is taking early steps that will eventually result in flood protection up and down both sides of the river. But first, it’s taking some of those prevention measures for a test drive.

The semi-removable measures already in place is just a few feet long, but if test runs to turn the wall near the amphitheater into a flood barrier go well, people in Cedar Rapids could see that kind of structure a lot more. If they don’t the point over the next few months is to find something that will both hold water back, and look good doing it.

Just like a life-sized, high-stakes erector-set, when the river threatens to flood, the wall and local citizens would jump to action.

“You put in various pieces and segments of the wall, as the higher the forecast, the higher then you can build that wall,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett as he demonstrated with a model on his desk.

Those removable measures will complement the permanent and earthen dams that already exist, and whatever is built in the future. Mayor Corbett says on a trip to Nashville to check out their flood protection, he got a closer look.

"I actually, with the City Manager, put several of the panels in place just to see how big and how heavy they were,” said Mayor Corbett.

He says it doesn’t take much training to do the work, meaning volunteers could be organized to help with flood prep, a process which right now takes days and a lot of city workers.

"So this is a small enough section that it's going to give us an idea, how many people it's going to take and how much time it will take to assemble,” said Corbett.

Right now, the city is looking for bids to make those pieces, eventually a demonstration will show people what’s possible. On the other side of the river, the dirt work site across from the Alliant Tower is the future home of the CRST building, which will also be an example of flood protection hidden in plain sight.

"It's going to be less of an opportunity to look at a flood wall because it's really going to be built into the building and made part of it,” said Cedar Rapids Interim Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt.

Work on the east and west sides of the river lets the city strike a balance between protecting the seven and a half miles that the river threatens while still letting people nearby enjoy the view.

Mayor Corbett says final designs will address specific needs and pick what’s determined to be the right form of flood protection for each spot.

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