CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- Flash flooding caused by rapidly rising streams and creeks wasn't the only water problem in Cedar Rapids. The "closed" sign went up suddenly at three businesses in the New Bohemia district after sewers backed up and flooded basements.
The Parlor City Pub and Eatery, Bata's Restaurant and the Chrome Horse all had to close after at least a foot of water flooded basements of three different buildings. City utility officials say there were reports of at least 30 flooded basements in homes scattered around the city as rainwater overwhelmed the city's sewer system causing backups into basements. But the New Bo area was the only business district experiencing any problems.
Derek Collins, general manager of the Chrome Horse, said things have gone well for the city's newest entertainment districtespecially after the opening of the NewBo City Market last fall. But Thursday wasn't one of those days.
Collins said his restaurant had at least a foot of water in the basement and significant damage to some things stored there. He was just hoping the walk in coolers containing all the food were watertight.
"The biggest thing right now is a lot of dry storage, a lot of clothing that we have for retail is ruined and our offices. Hopefully, we keep it away from the information technology equipment and all the computer systems," Collins said.
At Bata's Restaurant, owner Nick Bata did lose some food stored in the basement and will need to have part of his beverage dispensing system replaced due to contamination. He had called in a plumber to pump out the basement and was still tallying the damage. But he said a loss of at least $10,000 was probably a pretty good early estimate.
"Right now, we have to go down once the water is out and assess that. We'll see what food got damaged and get that out of there as soon as possible and clean everything we can in an appropriate manner," Bata said.
John Jelinek, owner of Parlor City, said it was especially disappointing to actually chase customers out just before the noon hour. He had tried to pump the water out early and keep operating, but the water was coming in faster than he could pump it out. Jeninek, as he tallied his losses, said a day of lost business wasn't cheap.
"The lost business, that's going to be $5,000 at least. And I hope that's all of it. We'll probably be closed most of the day and I just hope we can get cleaned up and open for tonight (Thursday)," he said.
Bata and some of the other owners wondered if city sewer work in the New Bo district in recent years had made things worse by creating bottlenecks.
But Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids public works maintenance manager, said similar problems were popping up all over the city. And where the water backed up into basements was just a combination of low-lying ground and bad luck.