COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) — During his speech, Mayor Matt Walsh referenced a Mike Tyson quote to illustrate the hardships of the past year.
"The brilliant American philosopher Mike Tyson famously said, 'Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the face,'" Walsh said.
Recovering from the Missouri River floods will be one challenge. Walsh said the road to recovery is far from over. While Council Bluffs did not experience above-ground flooding, it still had a huge impact.
"The extended height and time frame of the Missouri River as it remained outside its banks resulted in a summer and fall of elevated groundwater levels that have caused infrastructure damage to city property and in many cases, caused significant property damage to people's foundation," Walsh said.
Walsh said the city is filing FEMA claims for repairs to flood-damaged city property. The city has also rebuilt or replaced multiple sewer collapses in town, costing more than 11 million dollars.
"We currently are working on strategies to mitigate these problems, the hope is to construct a large detention base that can efficiently store excess stormwater runoff until it can be efficiently pumped up and over the city's levee system," Walsh said.
Like the rest of the world, the city faced another disaster: the coronavirus pandemic. Walsh still remembers the day the pandemic arrived in Pottawattamie County.
"During the first press conference, I leaned over to County Supervisor Justin Schultz and I told him in 2 or 3 weeks, this won't even be newsworthy," Walsh said. "He looked confused and asked me why, and I told him, there will be hundreds of confirmed COVID cases, that number turned out to be thousands of COVID cases."
When Walsh was writing his speech last week he took a minute and checked the city's social media to read some feedback from people. He saw a few negative posts.
"They agreed they needed to find and elect a different Mayor who actually understood what it's like to work hard, I just hung my head, I felt a little sorry for myself for about a heartbeat but then I went back to work, I had too much left to do with so little time," Walsh said.
So far, there have been 150 COVID-related deaths in Pottawattamie County, but Walsh said the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are going down.