An Iowa neighborhood is frustrated by major costs from flooding for the second time in eight years, especially when the residents and officials think that electrical damages could have been mitigated.
According to a report from The Gazette, about 20 city-owned towers containing electric meters may need replacing at a cost of about $15,000 each, and unless federal aid kicks in, local taxpayers would be on the hook. Power to the harbor remains shut off, and could be for a while.
The neighborhood, Ellis Harbor, is part of Cedar Rapids. After a 2008 flood, changes were made to better protect the harbor from flood damage, including the addition of a cable tethering houseboats to land as a fail-safe and industrial flotation devices as opposed to barrel floats for new houseboats or new owners.
The electric meters and towers were also moved from the side to the top of a slope, gaining about five feet of elevation. But it wasn’t high enough. When the Cedar River crested at nearly 22 feet on Sept. 27, several of the meters were submerged.
Concerns had actually been raised at meetings between the Riverfront Improvement Commission, Alliant Energy, and city officials after the 2008 flood.
Cedar Rapids owns the infrastructure, but placement of meters is regulated by utility companies, which requires meters to be no higher than 4 to 6 feet above ground level to allow safe manual meter reading, the report said.
According to the city parks and recreation director, who did not work for the city in 2008 but was briefed by staff, said the city “encouraged” Alliant to elevate the meters more after 2008, but the energy company declined to deviate from its standards.
The city and Alliant are discussing possible solutions to avoid the same damage in the future, including placing the meters higher and having a remote reader accessible at ground level or from a vehicle, which is available for some newer structures.