Iowa Return Neighborhoods to Nature to Fight Floods

The Iowa River flooded in 2008. (Photo: Stephen Cummings [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Officials in Iowa have been trying to take the reasonable step of removing housing and business development from areas near rivers prone to flooding. After last year's devastating floods that caused $6 billion in damage, Cedar Rapids has worked to create a 220-acre greenway buffer from land that was previously covered in homes and businesses.

They secured $27 million in federal funds to buy out property owners and want to build a city park or wilderness trail along the river. Homes outside the park will be protected by a levee built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Some of the property owners are balking at the offers being made for their homes. If they don't take the offers they could be designated as risks to the flood protection system by the federal government and forced to sell for the pre-flood assessed value.

It's kind of crazy that it's taken them this long to start discouraging development in areas of town that regularly get swallowed up by angry waters.

Or at the very least, if they are going to build in flood-prone areas, make them put up a house that can go with the flow, like they've done in Amsterdam.

The Guardian describes the floating "watervilla" homes:

The standard "watervilla" floats, thanks to a hollow concrete box underneath it. As well as providing the buoyancy, this doubles as a basement just like any other — one home even has a cinema on the lower floor. Typically, the house is moored to the shore on posts sunk into the ground, and is supplied with water and electricity through flexible pipes. As the water level rises, the house simply slides up the posts, and the pipes bend accordingly.