City 'cautiously optimistic' hours before historic Cedar River crest

No breaches in temporary barriers seen Monday night as 23-foot crest approaches

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CEDAR RAPIDS — At a special City Council meeting Monday night hours before the Cedar River’s projected crest of 23 feet, city officials said precautions taken to contain the historic flooding were holding steady.

The crest, the second-highest level in Cedar Rapids’ history, is projected to come Tuesday afternoon, according to a Monday night forecast from the National Weather Service.

“Everything is holding,” Public Works Director Jen Winter told Mayor Ron Corbett and the council. Water “is coming up; it’s reaching the (sand barriers) is some areas. In Kingston, NewBo, Czech Village, we are starting to hit some of the berms and the (barriers.)”

Crews were fighting some water in low-elevation areas inside the miles of temporary barriers erected around vulnerable neighborhoods over the last few days.

In Time Check and Czech Village, water was coming up through storm sewers. While pumps were removing some standing water back to the wet side of the barriers, Winter said, crews were focused on getting the water into a controllable radius rather than removing it all together.

“We’re staying in front of it,” she said. “We’re not too worried about it.”

Officials seemed more concerned about the number of people still present in the flood evacuation zone. Residents were urged to leave the area, which includes some 6,000 parcels, by Sunday night, and the area has a curfew from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“People have got to stay out of the zone even during non-curfew hours,” Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said. There are “people that don’t grasp the seriousness of this situation and the potential for catastrophe.”

Flood projections were still shifting Monday. While the weather service has been holding firm on a 23-foot crest, it pushed back the timing from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“The water rise is slowing down,” Winter said. “I do think we’ll come in under 23 feet if it stays slowing down. Right now, I would say we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Officials said they’ll know more Tuesday.

“We’re doing OK,” Parks and Recreation Director Sven Leff said. “We’ll see if we make it through the night and what we wake up to in the morning.”

For all of The Gazette’s Flood 2016 coverage, please visit the flood coverage center.

For all of The Gazette's Flood 2016 coverage, please visit our flood coverage center.

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