Mar 22, 2024 - News

Des Moines' historic floods prompt over $150 million in prevention projects

A photo of Des Moines during floods in 1993.

Floods in 1993 damaged large sections of the metro, including downtown Des Moines. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images

Des Moines is more flood resilient than just a few years ago, public works director Jonathan Gano told the City Council during a presentation last month.

Why it matters: Homes and businesses are better protected against floods, which have caused billions of dollars in damages and multiple deaths caused in recent decades.

Driving the news: Flood insurance will no longer be required for about 170 homeowners in the Highland Park neighborhood once a $20.5 million storm system project is completed next year.

  • That can save owners upwards of $1,400 annually, Patrick Beane, DSM's clean water administrator, tells Axios.

Catch up fast: The city tripled the rate of stormwater projects for flood mitigation after more than 1,800 homes were damaged in 2018.

  • Multiple phases of projects in Beaverdale, Easter Lake and near the Iowa State Fairgrounds are now complete.
  • Polk County also expanded its flood prevention efforts and incentivized a land buffer program in farm areas.

Follow the money: DSM's initiatives cost more than $150 million over a six-year period.

Reality check: Floods remain a concern.

What's next: More than $100 million in additional levee improvements and stormwater projects are in DSM's five-year budget.

A photo of parking lots at Highland Park Community Church.
Stormwater detention chambers were constructed under Highland Park Community Church's parking lots in 2021 for flood prevention. It's part of DSM city government's larger protection plan that will result in insurance savings for area residents. Screenshot: Courtesy of city of DSM.

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