State Flood Recovery Assistance Update:
In October 2019, Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) notified us of a possible flood buyout program, funded by the State of Iowa, for residents affected by Missouri River flooding. We worked with EMA to solicit inquiries from all interested Council Bluffs residents.
Residents within Council Bluffs city limits submitted a total of 230 inquiries. The cost to buyout 230 properties would be over $30 million.
Because of the widespread interest in the possible buyout program, City Staff identified key priorities for assessing properties for a buyout. Priority areas were determined based on (1) units that suffered foundation collapses; (2) repeated impact by flash flooding annually causing continuous damage to properties; and (3) creating a buffer along the levee, allowing for easier access and maintenance. These three priority areas would ensure flood sustainability, mitigation, and continued resiliency for all residents of Council Bluffs.
On February 5, the City submitted a request for State Flood Recovery Assistance for $9.8 million to buyout 68 properties that met at least one of the three priorities. The application explained the decision to include all three priority areas acknowledging the substantial impact it would have on the local tax base. Still, the benefit to the community would outweigh the cost. The entire west portion of Council Bluffs benefits from a strong levee system that provides flood risk reduction to over 60% of our commercial and residential development. The proposed buyout would also create the possibility of developing a new stormwater detention area that would provide relief for the stormwater system and reduce street flooding in areas closer to the river. For these reasons, the City of Council Bluffs expressed the need to buyout the identified priority areas.
Today, February 14, we learned that the State’s Flood Mitigation Board only considered funding for projects identified as "immediate need." "Immediate need" for Council Bluffs is defined as units that suffered foundation collapses. The total amount of funding allocated for Council Bluffs is $342,540.
“It is an unfortunate position for the Flood Mitigation Board to have to choose between so many projects in need, but we understand the levee system is the priority,” said Mayor Matt Walsh. “We remain hopeful that we can assist other residents through additional future allocations.”
An additional funding source may be available in the future. In December 2019, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $96.7 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to the State of Iowa. A timeline for availability to the City of Council Bluffs is not yet available.