Cedar River Crests at Nearly 16 Feet in Palo Saturday Night

By Emily Busse, Reporter

Floodwaters of the Cedar River rise around a house on Linn Drive in southeast Palo on Friday, May 31, 2013. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

PALO, Iowa - Following days of increasing anxiety corresponding with rising river levels, the crest of the Cedar River at Palo occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday night

The river crested at 15.67 feet and began slowly going down. There was no major damage to the city or the area, city officials reported Sunday morning.

The early crest upriver in Vinton Saturday morning was “encouraging,” said Palo City Councilman Micah Mogle, because it pushed the estimated crest in Palo up. However, Mogle emphasized they braced for the 17-foot level they initially anticipated.

“I think the atmosphere is that we’ve made very diligent preparations and now we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and the weather,” Mogle said.

Officials issued a voluntary evacuation notice for residents in affected areas and encouraged anyone in danger of flooding to utilize sandbags available at the City Maintenance Shop.

The primary risk was for basement flooding, Mogle said, and they are urging residents to plug sewer and floor drains to prevent back up. Water restrictions put in place Saturday evening were lifted Sunday morning following the crest.

Though Mogle underscored that residents are not out of danger at this point, they are cautiously optimistic.

“Thankfully we’re seeing a gradual rise and not a spike. Vinton [cresting early] was very encouraging,” he said. “Everything is trending the way we need it to trend right now and we hope it stays that way.”

Palo resident Fred Moyer lives outside the flooding area, but his daughter’s home sits directly in the path of potential flooding on Palo’s southeast side. He said he spent the day yesterday helping move everything up from her basement.

“The knowledge is there from five years ago,” he said as he looked over flood maps in Palo’s City Hall Saturday. “Palo is being much more proactive about keeping citizens aware.”

Cedar Rapids resident Ron Irvin spent the day on Palo’s southeast side Saturday, helping haul his mother’s possessions up from her basement on Thompson Drive as flood waters crept up Linn Drive a few yards away.

Irvin said he didn’t think residents in Palo are overly alarmed by the flooding, and he said it seems people are more prepared than in 2008.

“I don’t know if anyone can say how much it’ll flood,” he said. “…Better to be safe than sorry.”

As Palo waited for the crest Saturday night, Moyer described their current position as a waiting game.

“We’re at this hairy edge right now where…are the three sump pumps going to handle it? Or will we have a swimming pool in the basement?” he said.
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