Hundreds of Cedar Rapids homes, businesses in the path of the flood

Photo by Huw Loaring
Photo by Huw Loaring

The National Weather Service increased the predicted Cedar River flood level in Cedar Rapids by about one foot to 25.3 feet. The river is expected to crest Tuesday morning and fall back below flood stage by Friday.

Nearly 400 commercial properties and 1,349 residences in Cedar Rapids will be in harm’s way if the Cedar River reaches the anticipated crest, according to estimates provided at a Cedar Rapids press conference this morning.

Many of those properties were inundated during the 2008 flood.

“My call to the residents that experienced 2008 and now are reliving that again: I’m sure the emotions are running high and swinging on an hourly basis and there may be a feeling of desperation, of throwing your hands up,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said during the press conference. “We want to assure you that you’re not alone. That the community is here to help you.”

The city is currently setting up temporary flood protections including HESCO barriers and earthen dams and levees on both sides of the river. The protections will span from 1st Avenue and 16th Avenue on the east side of the river and from the Time Check neighborhood to the Czech Village area on the west side.

According to the city’s website, a number of streets will close both to prevent travel in low-lying areas and to allow for construction of flood protections. Boat ramps to the river are also closed, though boats will be allowed off the river.

Streets closed included:

  • 3rd Street SE at 8th Avenue SE
  • 3rd Street SE at 16th Avenue SE
  • Otis Road
  • Ellis Road west of Edgewood Road
  • 8th Avenue SE between 2nd Street and 5th Street SE — down to one lane each direction

“We are asking public to be patient and aware,” Cedar Rapids Public Works Director Jen Winter said.

Winter said there may be short-notice, temporary closures to allow contractors to build the barriers and berms. More roads will be closed starting on Saturday.

“We need the contractors to be able to get in there and build this as efficiently and safely as possible so we’re asking the public to stay away from these areas if you see contractors working and to find alternate routes if necessary,” she said.

Volunteers are sought to help with sandbagging efforts and to help impacted property owners move their possessions to safe locations. Sandbagging areas are located at the Ellis Park Pavilion, in the Time Check neighborhood at 5th Street NW and K Avenue NW and in the old K-Mart location at 16th Avenue SW and Williams Boulevard SW. Another sandbagging area at the NewBo City Market was closed earlier today.

Information about how to volunteer can be found on the United Way of East Central Iowa website.

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Updated flood information and information about closures can be found on the City of Cedar Rapids website.