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Morning Storm Causes Some Flash Flooding Headaches in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The rain may have come and gone quickly Friday morning. But it did come down hard enough and fast enough to cause some localized troubles in Cedar Rapids and Marion.

Cedar Rapids Fire Department spokesperson Greg Buelow said crews had to rescue the occupant of one vehicle in the parking lot of the Sherwin Williams store at 140 Collins Road NE. The flash flooding and a backed up storm sewer drain created water as much as three feet deep in the parking lot.

Buelow said several cars stalled out. One driver was so concerned she called 9-1-1 for help getting out of her car.

"When (firefighters) got here, the water was above the back rear tires and just over the headlights. She was standing on the front seat waiting for firefighters to assist her out of there," Buelow said.

Sherwin Williams Operations Manager Larry Dierks said the water was rising so quickly if the heavy rain had kept up another ten minutes it might have gotten inside the store. Dierks said his store's parking lot is a low spot in the shopping area and drains slowly. But the biggest problem is when drivers aren't so careful going through that standing water.

"They don't realize it's three foot deep and they just barrel through and some people like to just chance it," Dierks said.

After the rescue, Cedar Rapids firefighters and DOT trucks blocked access roads and the parking lot for an hour to let the water drain and keep vehicles out.

Another bit of damage, at almost the exact same time, was due to a lightning strike.

Jeff Olson, a homeowner at 880 14th Street in Marion, said lightning hit a large pine tree in his front yard and toppled at least half onto his roof. There was both damage to the roof itself and heavy water damage inside.

Ironically, Olson said until this storm, the tree in his front yard wasn't a problem and even had a local distinction of sorts.

"We have a certificate from back in the 1990's that this is the tallest white fire pine tree in all of Linn County. Obviously, it's not anymore," Olson said.