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from Linn County Government

Special Edition: 2016 Flood Success Stories

Fall 2016

2016 Flood: Linn County Success Stories

In September 2016, the Cedar River crested at its second highest level in history in Linn County, second only to the historic flood in 2008. The lessons learned in 2008 proved invaluable in our response to the flooding this past September. As a community, we were better prepared, and our preparation led to a much better outcome.
Here we share with you just a few of Linn County’s success stories about the preparation, hard work and cooperation of county employees during this historic event.

The most crucial actions were to protect the public, our employees and our infrastructure. Five county buildings were evacuated and hundreds of employees were relocated to minimize a disruption of services. At Linn County, all of our buildings were back open for business, with normal business functions, by October 3, approximately only one week after closing.
During the flooding emergency, the Board of Supervisors met daily to brief on the flood, the County’s actions and to make decisions as necessary. Board members were also part of the team working at the Emergency Operations Center with the Linn County Emergency Management Agency.

Here are our stories:


Steve Estenson
Steve Estenson
Photo courtesy of The Gazette

Risk Manager Steve Estenson Led Linn County’s Flood Efforts

One of the first decisions made by the Linn County Board of Supervisors in the days before the 2016 flood was to appoint Linn County Risk Manager Steve Estenson as the Incident Commander. That’s a formal way of saying that Steve was in charge of coordinating all efforts to prepare for the flood, as well as being given the authority to make key decisions. Read more...

GIS flood map showing Cedar River

Geographic Information Services Department Played a Crucial Role in the County’s Flood Efforts

The Geographic Information Services Department (GIS) played a crucial role in Linn County’s efforts to battle the rising water from the September 2016 flood and help residents in need.
The GIS team began by creating a predictive flood map that helped illustrate areas that could be impacted. Read more...

Installing HESCO barriers at the Linn county Sheriff's Office

Multiple County Departments Pitch in to Brace for Flood Water

Linn County employees from the Secondary Road Department, Sheriff’s Office and the Conservation Department worked together to install HESCO barriers to protect County buildings from rising flood water.

One day after flood waters crested in downtown Cedar Rapids, Linn County Secondary Road Superintendent Ben Merta proudly showed off some of the work his department did to prepare for the flood. Read more...

Linn County Public Service Center
Linn County Public Service Center

Lessons Learned from the Flood of 2008

Linn County Facilities Director Garth Fagerbakke said one of the defining moments of the 2016 flood had to do with a sanitary sewer line.
In the wake of the 2008 flood, a valve was installed at the Public Service Center (PSC) to shut off the sanitary sewer line and prevent back up in the building. In September 2016, Fagerbakke and colleague Steve Nunemaker tested that valve as the Cedar River prepared to crest at 22 feet. Read more...

Mobile unit from the Iowa Department of Transportation
A mobile unit from the Iowa DOT helped Linn County process motor vehicle transactions while temporarily relocated during the flood.

Treasurer’s Office Gave Flood-Affected Residents an Extension
to Pay Property Taxes

Linn County Treasurer Sharon Gonzalez leveraged an important contact to significantly help county taxpayers as the flood water started to rise.
During a September 24th meeting with former county treasurer and Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Sharon learned about a special disaster proclamation that would grant a one-month property tax payment extension for Linn County residents. Read more...

Pinicon Ridge B Loop under water
Pinicon Ridge B Loop campground during September 2016 flood.

Linn County Conservation Employees Were Right on the Mark

When people hear "Flood-Linn County", most people think about the Cedar River and the devastation that happened in 2008. Many people don't realize the Wapsipinicon River is in the northern part of Linn County and the County owns and manages six areas that are directly impacted by that river. Read more...

Employees seated at the temporary location of the Auditor's Office during the September 2016 flood
Auditor's Office employees in their temporary location during the September 2016 flood.

Auditor’s Office Makes Seamless Transition

With only days to spare before the start of early voting on September 29, employees in the Auditor’s Office relocated around $1 million worth of voting systems from the Public Service Center to the lobby of the Community Services Building on Sunday, September 25. There, they maintained normal office functions from September 26-30. Read more...

Photo of "jig" used to remove pins from HESCO barriers
An employee holds the "jig" created to help remove pins from the HESCO barriers.

Innovative Solutions to Flood Problems

Linn County Secondary Road Mechanic Dennis Kriegel knows first-hand that necessity is truly the mother of invention. In the wake of the flood, Kriegel created a “jig” that made it safer, faster and less damaging to take the HESCO barrier units apart. The barriers were used to secure the perimeter of county buildings in the flood zone. Read more...

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