Flood preparations underway in Cedar Rapids; Cedar River to crest Sunday

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP/KCRG-TV9) - Officials in Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas are preparing for flooding as the National Weather Service adjusted predictions of when the Cedar River there will crest.

The Cedar River in Cedar Rapids on September 4, 2018. (KCRG)

The service now says the river will crest Sunday afternoon at 17 feet - 5 feet above flood stage. It had earlier predicted the river would crest at 16.5 feet on Thursday, but more heavy rain has fallen in the area.

In the Cedar Rapids suburb of Palo, officials have opened a sandbagging station for public use. City employees also were placing sandbags around parts of the city's wastewater facility.

About 40 miles to the west near Belle Plaine, the Iowa Department of Transportation has closed a stretch of Highway 21 because of flooding.

Flood warnings are continuing for other eastern Iowa rivers because of heavy rainfall on already saturated soil. They include the Iowa River at Columbus Junction, the Maquoketa River at Maquoketa and the Wapsipinicon River at DeWitt.

City officials in Cedar Rapids held a press conference Wednesday afternoon where they said they think the measures they have taken to protect the city in recent days are working. Among their efforts include closing certain street in the Time Check neighborhood and turning on new flood pumping stations. City officials did warn, however, despite their efforts, some residents may experience damage to their property.

"In a flash flooding event or from the Cedar River or off the Cedar River, we may see water coming into people's basements or property damage from that," said Jen Winter, Cedar Rapids public works director.

The City of Cedar Rapids also closed the McGrath amphitheater as part of their flood mitigation efforts.

Cedar Rapids officials believe the measures they have taken this far will protect the city from an 18 foot river crest.