As Cedar River on pace to reach major flood stage, Cedar Rapids businesses prepare

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- With forecasts showing the Cedar River cresting on Tuesday, some local businesses are getting prepared for high water levels- even if the water does not show up at the front doors.

By Tuesday, September 25, the river is expected to crest at 17.4 feet- 1.4 feet above what is considered a major flood stage. For some store owners in the area, it is inches away to cause for concern.

At Pierson's Flower Shop and Greenhouses in Cedar Rapids, ownership is always aware when there is a threat of a flood- because their storefront on the northwest side is only a stone's throw away from the Cedar River. While it may not flood in the store, it will play a factor for business.

"Once we get to 18 feet, that's when I start to get worried. I start thinking about evacuation," said Pierson.

"We're not going to get wet," said Al Pierson, owner of Pierson's Flower Shop and Greenhouses. "But what happens in all these cases, it affects my business. It affects people trying to get to us."

Pierson says when flood warnings arise, he has to reassure customers the floods will not bother business.

"People start worrying, they start calling, they don't come in," Pierson said. "And it affects the psyche of the neighborhood, my neighbors. Sleepless nights. So even though it isn't on my property, it affects us."

To the city of Cedar Rapids, flooding can mean writing checks. The month of September has already cost Cedar Rapids $300,000 in emergency flood preparation costs. To help save some money, staff members with Public Works have no plans to have employees on the job doing any flood prep over the weekend.

"September historically has not been a month of flooding but we're seeing that change in the last few years," said Jen Winter, Public Works Director for the city of Cedar Rapids. "We do think that this event will end up fairly similar to what we saw just a few weeks ago."

City officials will play it safe. Winter says staff will monitor levels over the weekend, ready to take action if needed.

"We do have things in place if we need to go to 18 [feet], but for right now we're going to hold at 16 [feet]," Winter said.

In the meantime for store owners like Pierson, the memories from years past only ensure proper planning for the days and years to come.

"You've got to remain calm and not get freaked out, and just try to get a peace of mind," Pierson said. "Because whatever's going to happen is going to happen. You just need to be prepared and have a plan."

Pierson says since the 2008 and 2016 floods any sign of rain concerns him, but he has no plans to clear out the store- especially this time around.