City: Rising River Brings ‘Some Risk,’ But Not Much

By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

For just the fifth time in the last decade, the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids is expected to top 17 feet.

While out of the norm, the anticipated peak isn’t cause for concern either, said public works maintenance manager Craig Hanson.

“In 2008, we protected to a level nearly exactly like this and no one even knew it happened,” Hanson said. “No bridges closed. This does not have significant issues for businesses... This means we are taking proactive actions. It has some risk, but it has very low risk.”

According to the latest National Weather Service predictions, the river will crest at 17.3 feet on Tuesday. In response, Hanson said he is stepping up flood protection throughout the city to 18 foot levels. Hanson said late Monday morning that “90 percent” of that preparation was done Sunday.

“We always protect for the worst and hope for the best,” Hanson said. “That’s what we’ll do today. This won’t be that much more to get to that point.”

There will be impacts throughout the city as the river rises. Ellis Road in Linn County between Edgewood Road and F Avenue will close. Manhattan Park will be totally flooded and Ellis Road from 18th Street to Ellis Pool will close. Water pumps to get rain water off the road and back into the river have been stationed along Penn Avenue NW and down First Street NW.

“We’ve got pumps here, there and everywhere,” Hanson said.

Further south, a pump has been stationed on First Street near the McGrath Ampitheater. Hanson said the amphitheater will not be affected unless the river tops 20 feet. Riverside Park has been closed due to the water under the 12th Avenue Bridge and the city also will be fortifying the intersection of 15th Avenue and A Street in the Czech Village. New Bohemia is also home to a large water pump at Third Street and 10th Avenue, as well as other flood protections. Hanson said the neighborhood is “not a problem.”

“We’re in good shape,” he said. “The fact that we took proactive actions yesterday means we’re in really good shape.”

Hanson said even if “we have a really bad day in my world” and flood protection measures in the Czech Village fail, the result would only be 1.5 to 2 feet of water on A Street. That would threaten one home on A Street and one on B Street, but water shouldn’t enter either structure. In fact, it would take river levels to go up at least another foot before there were any concerns about residences in the city.

“Not at this level,” Hanson said of any threats to homes. “You’ve got to get up at 18.5 feet where we start notifying and taking actions for people.”

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