For a second time in a month, regional representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday told the Cedar Rapids City Council that they will not support the city’s plan to replace the flood-destroyed Time Check Recreation Center with a new $3-million facility built in the 100-year flood plain.
All nine members of the council participated in the Tuesday morning teleconference with FEMA representatives to make the council’s case — that the need to replace the recreation center in the same spot where it once stood outweighed the concerns about rebuilding in a spot in the flood plain, where the 2008 floodwaters in the city reached 14 feet by some accounts.
FEMA representatives had no time for the insistence of council members, saying that federal rules prohibit such construction if a “practicable” option outside the 100-year flood plain is available.
In the face of council persistence, Bob Bissell, FEMA’s regional mitigation division director, minced no words. Bissell said the nation’s flood insurance program is running a deficit of $17 billion, with another $20 billion likely to be added as a result of the recent Superstorm Sandy disaster on the East Coast. Bissell said the nation needed to look at “the bigger picture,” stop building in risky 100-year flood plains and do what’s best “for all of us.”
Council member Don Karr, who often notes as he did in Tuesday’s teleconference that he grew up in the Time Check neighborhood, dismissed Bissell’s comments, saying that building the recreation center in the 100-year flood plain was “about people, and people do live on rivers.”
What do you think? Is it time for Cedar Rapids city leaders to give up the idea of building a new Time Check recreation center near its original site?