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Iowa's 2008 Flood Recovery

In 2008, Iowa experienced one of its worst disasters in its history. Ten square miles of Cedar Rapids were underwater and parts of more than a dozen other communities, including the entire towns of Palo and Oakville, University of Iowa’s arts campus, and about 10 percent of Iowa’s corn and soybean acres, were flooded. President George W. Bush declared 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties federal disaster areas.

Many Iowans lost everything but were determined to recover and rebuild better, stronger and smarter. Smart recovery meant restoring some areas and returning others to green space that would flood harmlessly next time.

With initial loss estimates ranging from $8 to $10 billion statewide, recovery would be vast. Recovering quickly was crucial; so was recovering sustainably. The greatest immediate need was replacement housing. Business assistance, infrastructure repair and improvements, and farsighted flood mitigation activities were of nearly equal importance.

Nearly a billion dollars in recovery funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) was granted to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). CDBG funds were the second-largest single source of flood recovery money utilized, behind Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds. The funds were critical to filling gaps in other flood recovery programs — not only in housing but also in wide-ranging business assistance, infrastructure rebuilding, and flood mitigation efforts. 

The reach of CDBG-Disaster Recovery stretched farther than the communities directly affected by the floods. The funds contributed to affordable housing, a thriving economy, a more-robust infrastructure, and a more-sustainable, resilient landscape throughout Iowa’s 85 flood-affected counties.

The IEDA’s work, along with partner organizations such as the Iowa Flood Center, won national and international accolades, placing Iowa at the forefront of flood mitigation planning nationwide. 

  1. Flooding Timeline
  2. The Damage
  3. Understanding CDBG
  4. Cedar Rapids
  5. Des Moines
  6. Iowa City
  7. Waterloo
  8. Cedar Falls
  9. Mason City
  10. Coralville
  11. Palo
  12. Waverly
  13. Oakville
  14. Columbus Junction
  15. Elkader
  16. Vinton
  17. Charles City
  18. Legacy of Resilience

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