Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
VINTON (KWWL) -
After record-setting floods in 2008 damaged dozens of homes in Vinton, Iowa, community leaders say the town is bouncing back better than ever by re-purposing flood damaged land as public parks.
"It makes you feel good that we're providing facilities and things for people to utilize, even if it was flooded at one time," said Duane Randall, Director of Vinton Parks and Recreation."We've rebounded and I think our community will continue to rebound."
So far, four parks have been constructed, including a community youth garden. These riverfront properties serve a dual purpose, as both a gathering space for the community, and as a barrier between local properties and the Cedar River. They're easier to recover more quickly than residential homes.
"As we build these parks and so on we're building them so-called ‘flood-proof,' as much as we can, so that hopefully if the water does come up it will recede right away," Randall said."Wash it off and go back to normal."
One such space is Veteran's Park.Before the floods and construction, it was just a vacant lot.
But closer to downtown Vinton, another park is under construction on land where eight flood-damaged homes used to stand.
"We expect it to be just absolutely beautiful when it's done," Mayor John Watson said.
They've already raised $280,000 in just seven weeks to fund this new effort. Sticking together like this is critical, Watson said. More than 30 homes in Vinton were damaged in 2008, and it was a huge blow to residents. That's why, he says, these reconstruction projects are so critical to community longevity.
"I just look forward to growing old in this community and walking through this park with my grandchildren," Watson said.
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