JULY 9TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
By REGISTER STAFF
Read the original story at The Des Moines Register
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Tuesday he has spurred Congress to commit $3 million toward the cost to rebuild levees that protect the Birdland Park and Central Place areas on Des Moines’ north side.
City leaders welcomed the money, even though the amount represents roughly a quarter of the estimated $12 million it will cost to replace the levees, which failed in 1993 and again last month.
“It’s just great news,” said Rick Clark, city manager. “The Birdland and Central Place levees are absolutely our top priorities for the levee system in Des Moines.”
About 220 homes, North High School and several businesses were inundated when the levees gave way and water from the Des Moines River washed away desperate sandbagging efforts by city crews, volunteers and Iowa National Guard troops.
Clark said about $2.5 million of the cost to replace the levees will come from the city. The remaining $7.5 million would be paid by the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said.
The $3 million announced Tuesday “allows the Corps to continue working on the project,” Clark added.
Harkin described the allocation as “a first step” and pledged to hound Washington lawmakers for more.
The remainder of the money needs to come soon, said Tom Vlassis, a Des Moines city councilman.
“We’ve been facing this problem since the 1940s,” Vlassis said. “The only thing we can do is beg Congress to give the Corps the money they need to get the project done.”
A sound levee system could provide the spark for residential and commercial development in the area and mirror rejuvenations in the East Village and downtown, Clark said.
“With a weak levee, people are disinclined to invest in their homes and businesses if they believe they’re going to be flooded again,” he said.