Cedar Rapids' Flood Control Measures Doing Their Job

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Water from the swelling Cedar River flows under the First Avenue Bridge near the Veterans Memorial Building on Thursday, May 30, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/KCRG-TV9)


By Richard Pratt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — For now, the Cedar River here is holding about steady, just above 17 feet, though the National Weather Service’s projection is still for the river to climb to 19.9 feet by Saturday evening.

The river reached 31.12 feet in the city’s flood disaster, but a level of 19.9 feet is approaching the second highest level the river ever has reached in Cedar Rapids. Twice, in 1851 and 1929, it reached 20 feet. In the 1993 flood, the river got to 19.27 feet.

On Friday morning, Craig Hanson, the city’s public works maintenance manager, said the river should get above 18 feet even if there is no additional rain in the Cedar River watershed because of the flood crest reached in Waterloo north of Cedar Rapids overnight.

Hanson added that more rain is expected today in the watershed. He noted, too, that the National Weather Service’s current projection takes into account rain forecasts for the next 24 hours.

Among the focuses of the city’s attention right now is the projected need to close the Edgewood Road bridge over the Cedar River if and when water runs over Edgewood Road at Ellis Boulevard NW. The river must reach about 18.2 feet before the road is closed, Hanson said. That river level, he said, may be reached Saturday morning. The street, a busy arterial, and the bridge will remain open as long as possible, he added.

Hanson said the city’s emergency flood control actions are holding well, though some water is forming ponds in low-lying spots near the river because storm sewer outlets to the river have been closed off to prevent the river from flowing back into the sewer system.

The city is adding pumps today to tackle water in the street. This has occurred in New Bohemia, First Street NW and Eighth Street NW, he said.

Hanson said the city was well protected for a river level of 20 feet.

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