Following years of relentless efforts to secure $117 million in federal funding, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined city officials and others today for the groundbreaking of the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project, an initiative that has been a top priority for the Senator since her first day in office. As a former member of the Iowa National Guard, Senator Ernst was on the ground to respond to the disaster in 2008 and saw firsthand the devastation it caused for the Cedar Rapids community.
“As a member of the Iowa National Guard deployed here more than ten years ago, I vividly remember firsthand the terrible devastation this community experienced in 2008,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “When I first entered the U.S. Senate, I made securing federal resources for this project one of my top priorities. Today, after years of hard work and collaboration from city leaders, the local business community, the state, and our Iowa Congressional delegation, we’re celebrating the resilience of the Cedar Rapids community and the beginning of permanent flood protection for this great city.”
Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said, “We are incredibly grateful for the work of Senator Ernst, Senator Grassley, and many others who helped secure much needed Federal funding for our flood control system. The years of hard work and perseverance paid off. Their efforts will ensure the long term protection of Cedar Rapids’ citizens, property, and economy.”
Today’s groundbreaking comes more than 10 years after record-breaking flooding in the city caused approximately $5.4 billion in damages.
Senator Ernst’s efforts to secure funding for Cedar Rapids:
- September 2016: Senator Joni Ernst and Senator Chuck Grassley send a letter to the USACE demanding answers on why flood mitigation projects in the Cedar Rapids region have not been completed.
- October 2016: Senators Grassley and Ernst send a letter to USACE seeking insight into a flawed policy that has led to the downgrading of flood control projects in Iowa cities.
- November 2016: Senator Ernst meets with head of USACE to discuss prioritization of Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project.
- February 2017: In Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) hearing, Senator Ernst pushes for improving metrics USACE uses to prioritize flood mitigation projects.
- March 2017: In EPW committee hearing, Senator Ernst questions Lt. General Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE, on the status of Cedar Rapids Flood mitigation project funding.
- May 2017: Senator Ernst highlights for Lt. General Semonite and EPW Committee the domestic and global economic impact of Cedar Rapids goods and their dependence on support from USACE.
- December 2017: Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James, commits to reevaluating and improving the current BCR metrics in EPW hearing.
- January 2018: At EPW hearing, Senator Ernst again pushes for a commitment from Lt. General Semonite to work to modify the BCR metrics.
- January 2018: Senators Ernst, Grassley and Congressman Blum (IA-01) sit down with Director of Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney to find a path forward to ensure Iowa receives long overdue federal resources.
- February 2018: Senator Ernst, Senator Grassley, and Congressman Blum send a letter to Lt. General Semonite and Secretary James requesting further information on how the USACE makes certain project funding decisions.
- March 2018: Senator Ernst follows up with Secretary James on letter she sent regarding the status of Cedar Rapids flood project funding.
- May 2018: America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed out of the EPW Committee and included an Ernst provision addressing the flawed BCR metrics and calling for prioritization of the Cedar Rapids flood control project.