- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2014

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Years after the 2008 flood exposed flaws in emergency communications, first responders in Iowa’s second largest county are using a new radio system so they can talk to each other.

Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner says his office and police departments in Hiawatha, Mount Vernon, Lisbon and Robins started using the new digital system Monday. Marion started using it last week, and Cedar Rapids is scheduled to make the switch Feb. 11.

Gardner and the chiefs of Cedar Rapids and Marion proposed the $19.2 million project in 2009 after emergency responders couldn’t communicate with each other during the 2008 flood.

Some 2,000 portable and mobile radios are on the new system. The Linn County system is also linked to the one in Johnson County, allowing for communications between the two.