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News Analysis: July 11, 2008

posted on July 11, 2008 at 11:35 AM

In the News Analysis, David Pitt of the Associated Press updates host Paul Yeager on the new estimates of the cost of flood clean-up in Cedar Rapids, which is $1 billion, and at the University of Iowa, expected to cost $231 million. Also discussed were new census figures that show Iowa's population has grown by 62,000 between 2000 and 2007 and that most of the growth has been in urban areas of the state.

Paul Yeager: David, we're always talking about the flood. Let's talk about the costs. This price tag keeps going up. The estimates of the price tag, let's talk about the University of Iowa and Cedar Rapids.

David Pitt: Cedar Rapids just re-estimated its damages at about $1 billion now and they're talking about $500 million of that is for clean up and getting things back to where they should be and the rest of it $810 million is for future kind of mitigation, what are they going to do to try to keep this thing from happening again.

Paul Yeager: Whether it's rebuild a levee or do some buyouts or whatever it could be.

David Pitt: And then we saw the University of Iowa also increase its estimates as they handed in some final totals to FEMA officials and it looks like they're talking about $231 million now. So, yeah, like you said it looks like as we kind of get a closer look at this thing and people are assessing what it's going to cost to rebuild and fix things and replace things.

Paul Yeager: And those were just two communities that were hit by flooding so you know the state total is going to be much higher. But we're also starting to maybe see some effects of the flood that we didn't realize we had structurally. Let's talk about in Guttenberg where there was a train derailment yesterday. What do we know about the train? What, first, was the cause? My understanding it was a boulder?

David Pitt: It looked like some sort of a landslide and it occurred just south of Guttenberg and it looks like it knocked like four freight trains off the track for locomotives and the trains they were pulling. So, it looks like that was a situation and, of course, last week we had a situation by Columbus Junction where the bridge actually gave way and some locomotives and some employees were dumped into the river there.

Paul Yeager: So, we might see that get added to the price too whether it's rail lines or roads. We're seeing a lot of roads disappearing in Iowa City as well. There's a lot of infrastructure issues.

David Pitt: Exactly, and it looks like those costs, again, are being assessed, they're being fixed now and I guess perhaps looking at more long-term do we need to replace some of these rail bridges, what kind of work needs to be done exactly.

Paul Yeager: Let's talk about one other thing here quickly and that is about population. New census figures show Iowa is growing slightly with the Des Moines metro and the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City metro areas. What is significant about these numbers?

David Pitt: Well, I think it shows a trend that we've been seeing for a while. I think this is the latest estimate for 2007 compared to the 2000 actual census. It looks like Iowa has grown something like 62,000 people and the population trends within the state are something that we've seen for a while which means people are moving from the rural areas into the metropolitan areas. The fastest growing cities were some of those cities around Des Moines and in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.

Paul Yeager: So, we're continuing to see what we thought was happening. Numbers are now backing up some of those previous thoughts. Is there anything that rural Iowa is talking about as a way to reverse this or is it a little too early to tell?

David Pitt: Yeah, I think it's probably too early to tell. There have been issues kind of surrounding it, federal funding, where does money go, it's a big issue about funding. And if you have fewer people living in the rural areas then you put more money into the cities. So, there will be a lot of discussion about it. As far as reversing the trend I think it's an issue of it's not just Iowa, it's happening a lot of places where people are just moving toward cities, larger cities.

Paul Yeager: We'll have to see if legislation reflects that.

David Pitt: I guess we'll see.

Paul Yeager: David Pitt of the Associated Press, thank you for coming in tonight for The Iowa Journal.

 

Tags: Iowa news