Flood 2016

Cedar Rapids school district preparing as flood projections creep toward Taylor, Harrison elementaries

High school program Iowa BIG, in NewBo, already planning alternative location

A student and his family walk toward the front entrance of Harrison Elementary in Cedar Rapids on August 22, 2016, to attend at open house before the start of the 2016-2017 school year. (Molly Duffy/The Gazette)
A student and his family walk toward the front entrance of Harrison Elementary in Cedar Rapids on August 22, 2016, to attend at open house before the start of the 2016-2017 school year. (Molly Duffy/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With the Cedar River predicted to crest at 24 feet by Monday, Cedar Rapids School District Superintendent Brad Buck said the district is working to minimize the impact on schools located in at-risk neighborhoods.

If the river rises to a crest of 24 feet, that level likely would flood areas of downtown, Kingston, Time Check, New Bohemia and Czech Village.

The most immediate issue, Buck said in an email to staff Thursday evening, will be transportation as bridges across the river may be affected. The district is working on possible solutions, he said.

Two elementary schools on the west side of the city — Harrison Elementary, 1310 11th Street NW, and Taylor Elementary, 720 7th Ave SW — are being monitored by the school district.

Harrison Elementary’s boiler room could be flooded, though Buck said that “is more related to the water table than the water actually reaching Harrison.”

At a 24-foot crest, floodwater is not expected to reach Harrison.

Taylor Elementary also should not be “directly impacted” if projected flood levels hold steady or decrease.

“It would take a significant increase in the crest height to get water into Taylor,” Buck said. “However, if it looks like that is becoming likely, we will contact Taylor staff specifically.”

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Taylor students are in the middle of a three-week break from school, according to Taylor Elementary’s year-round schedule.

High school students and teachers who participate in Iowa BIG likely won’t be able to access their regular building, at 415 12th Ave SE in NewBo. Buck said Associate Superintendent Trace Pickering, who oversees the community-based program, is working on alternative locations and plans for those students and staff members.

Buck said he was comforted by the coordination of city, county, law enforcement and school services that is already underway.

“(We) are well-prepared for a situation like we are expected to experience,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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