CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- The high water rolling down the Cedar River prompted Cedar Rapids city crews to step up flood preparations on Monday.
But the crest, now expected to hit 17.3 feet at Cedar Rapids, should cause minimal problems.
The city put up “road closed” signs in more than a dozen locations — either due to water on the roadways or to accommodate flood protection measures or equipment. More Cedar Rapids streets are expected to close before the river crests sometime later on Tuesday.
As spectators gawked at the rushing water near Ellis Park, city crews had an ongoing mission. The job, begun over the weekend, was to get the concrete barrels, cones, sandbags and pumps ready for any water that spills over. Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids Public Works Maintenance Manager, said in recent years crews have had quite a bit of practice.
“In the last decade, this will be our fifth major stage flood. Our staff are pretty well drilled in this as an every-two-year event on average,” Hanson said.
At the predicted crest of 17.3 feet, this would rank as the 16th highest crest on the Cedar in recorded history. Last June, a slightly higher crest on the Cedar did put some water in the streets around the NewBo entertainment district. Merchants said despite the sandbags and other equipment on standby they don't expect to see a repeat in 2014.
One NewBo district owner, Jon Jelinek, said “it's not like 2008. I don't believe that will ever happen. You've got to keep checking and city crews are doing what they need to do. But I think everything will be all right this year.”
Hanson said the real worry for the city begins when the river crests above 18 feet because more areas are vulnerable. But some of the temporary flood barriers, like the Tiger Dams or the sand-filled HESCO barriers don't go up until the river is expected to river to 20 feet or more.