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Time Check neighborhood mostly cleared out, but some residents stay put

'It doesn't help to get all freaked out,' says one resident

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Dave and Beth Bain’s 2-year-old grandson was captivated Sunday afternoon as he watched dump trucks pile dirt high across Ellis Boulevard.

Workers were connecting a wall of dirt along the south side of Ellis Park to another wall of sand-filled barriers running down Ellis Boulevard and past the house the couple has called home for 28 years. It’s part of an effort to protect the city from rising floodwaters from the Cedar River, which is expected to crest Tuesday morning at 23 feet.

The Bain’s home sits about 35 feet from the Cedar River and is firmly in the city’s flood evacuation zone, along with roughly 6,000 other parcels. City officials urged residents to leave by 8 p.m. Sunday, and many houses looked empty in Time Check hours before the deadline.

But the Bains — whose house was flooded in 2008 when the river crested at a record 31.12 feet — said they have no plans to leave, despite warnings the river could cause the second largest flood in Cedar Rapids history

“We’re on the good side of the levee. We’re staying down here,” said Beth Bain.

“If you haul it out, you’re going to have to haul it back in,” added Dave Bain, reflecting on others in the neighborhood who have evacuated.

Like most residents of Time Check and the Northwest quadrant of the city, the Bains have packed their basement windows with sandbags and taped plastic sheets up to their windows.

And now, they have a wall between them and the river.

Across the street, on the other side of the wall, Mike Augustine, 78, said he, too, has no plans to evacuate.

He’s cleaned out his basement and put out sandbags, but he said current flood projections would only bring water to the edge of his garage, yards away from his back door.

“That’s why I feel safe,” he said. “When they had (projections) up around 25 1/2 feet, I was pretty nervous.”

The projected crest of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids has fluctuated over the past few days, going as high as 25.3 feet.

During the 2008 flood, Augustine said he paddled a kayak out of the house. No one had expected the massive flood then, he said, so he understands the cautions being taken by the city.

“They don’t want to get caught by surprise,” Augustine said of the new wall outside his front door.

Another resident resisting evacuation, Bob Sperry, 77, said additional protection measures have been comforting — though he has a bag packed should water creep toward his home in the 1600 block of Ninth Street NW.

“I think they’re being a little too cautious,” he said.

Still, most homes in the Time Check area were dark Sunday as the 8 p.m. evacuation deadline approached.

Some residents were heading to hotels or to stay with friends until they are allowed back into their homes.

“Hopefully this is all for nothing,” said Sue Easterday, sitting in her emptied living room before leaving her house to stay with her son.

Down the street, Roshanda Henderson, 40, was leaving her rented basement apartment and going to a friend’s place.

“You don’t know — is anybody going to help you out?” she said. “If I have to move, if this basement gets flooded, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

But most people still in the neighborhood by the late afternoon planned to stay. Miles Wyatt, 27, who owns a house on 11th Street NW, shrugged and said he might get some water in the basement.

“It doesn’t help to get all freaked out,” Travis Perry, 41, said as he sandbagged around a drain in his basement. “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. We’ll deal with it afterward.”

As many of his neighbors headed to temporary homes, Dave Bain and his family started a bonfire in the backyard Sunday evening as the wind rustled the plastic tarps taped to the side of his house.

“I’ve got the feeling we’ve got way too many sandbags up here,” Bain said.

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

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