Sunday Rain Increases River Levels

By Katelynn McCollough, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — City workers in neon vests were continuing work on flood preparations near the Czech Village early Sunday afternoon when the dark skies first began to open up with rain.

The Cedar River, which was at 11.11 feet early Sunday morning, had risen to 11.64 feet by 4 p.m. On Sunday, the National Weather Service showed a projected crest of the river at 16.5 feet by Tuesday, a change from the 15.6 feet that was projected at the start of the day.

“We are preparing for a crest of greater than 16 feet,” said Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids public works maintenance manager. “I have over 50 some staff members called in currently that are installing flood protection.”

Projections for the river height can continually change with rainfall. Just last Thursday, projections showed that the river would not reach 14.7 feet until Tuesday, a projection that changed multiple times over the weekend and with rain on Sunday.

“We are now protected above a 15 foot crest level and on Monday we will finish preparations,” said Hanson Sunday night. He said that the city placed roughly 9,000 sandbags in the city on Sunday and they would continue preparations at 7 a.m. on Monday.

The projected 16 foot crest on Tuesday is considered a major flood stage, which Hanson explained would mean flooding in a few parts of the city at that crest level. He also said that flooding would be mainly park land and have little impact on structural areas.

River height projections for Waterloo, along with forecasts of heavy rain in that same area, had Hanson calling in crews on Sunday to set up concrete barrels, cones and other forms of flood protection.

“Right now, we have full expectations for us to be able to handle a crest of this size,” said Hanson, who explained that in June 2013 they handled a river crest of just over 18 feet. “This is not something that is uncommon or we have never done before.”

Areas around New Bo and Czech Village should be prepared for some minor traffic disruptions over the next few days as flood preparations continue, Hanson said, who also explained there was some minor street flooding on Sunday.

“In the Czech Village area they will find significant areas of storm protection,” said Hanson on Sunday. “We’ll be closing A Street SW later today.”

Several roads in Cedar Rapids, such as Otis Road SE, Fish Ct SW off Old River Road SW and Manhattan Park along Ellis Road NW, saw closings late Sunday evening.

Hanson explained that local residents should continue to monitor river levels via the National Weather Service or through this interactive map.

Crews monitored rainfall in the area throughout Sunday night and were prepared to operate pumps if the rain continued.

l Comments: katelynn.mccollough@sourcemedia.net

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