$50 Million Proposal To Upgrade Levees In Council Bluffs

Franque Thompson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA (KPTM) - People in Council Bluffs were hit hard by the floods of 2012. City officials are discussing a $50 million program to upgrade its levees.

Currently the levees protect about half of the city. However, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the levees don't fit the height requirement and are nearly 70 years old.

Council Bluffs City Council passed a resolution Monday, that would start the planning process with an engineering firm. Councilwoman Lynne Branigan said this is the first step towards the levees becoming certified by FEMA. Council still needs to vote on approving the $50 million program to start the improvements.

Officials said nearly 29 miles of Council Bluffs is protected by the levee. Residents said they don't want another flood to come through the Missouri River and damage their home.

"It was kind of a new experience, being a first time home owner and having a flooding going on. So, I didn't prepare for that," said Council Bluffs resident who saw damage from the flood.

The Missouri River surged past the Council Bluff levees back in 2012. Every home near the levees got some damage. Now, people are worried it could happen again.

"Thank god for that pump because it saved my house and property. So it kept working, it was on 24/7, just constantly turning out for three or four months," said Johnson.

Nearly 30,000 people rely on the levees for protection from river flooding. Officials said, if the program were approved, the $50 million needed would be spread out among individual projects within a 10 year span.

City Officials said it is undecided how the $50 million dollar program will be paid for. If taxes were increased, officials said it would be a city wide increase and not just for those who live along the river.

Johnson said he will do whatever it takes to get those repairs moving and keep his house from going under.

"This is where our taxes may have to go up, especially in this area. Then, you know, that's the price we have to pay to keep our homes," said Johnson.

If the city council does not approve the program, FEMA might redraw the city's flood plain map. In result, the entire west side of the city would be listed under the flood plain. This could mean big insurance hikes for homeowners; even for those who don't have to buy flood insurance would be forced to do so.