Public Safety

Predicted river crest in Cedar Rapids inches down again

If forecast holds, city will narrowly miss entering major flood stage

Water pools across Otis Road in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. The flood was expected to crest early Monday morning, with a few road closures remaining in low-lying areas. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Water pools across Otis Road in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. The flood was expected to crest early Monday morning, with a few road closures remaining in low-lying areas. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It appears Cedar Rapids has narrowly dodged reaching major flood stage following the overnight crest of the Cedar River.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, the Cedar River was at 15.3 feet and was expected to crest at 15.8 feet about 1 a.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service. The threshold for major flood stage is 16 feet.

“Crews are monitoring temporary protections, and everything is looking good and holding as expected,” Maria Johnson, communications division manager for the city of Cedar Rapids, said in a Sunday email.

Johnson added that 15.8 feet still is considered moderate flooding, and residents are reminded to stay out of floodwater.

For morning commuters, don’t expect to see much change regarding road closures.

Johnson said Edgewood Road — a key crossing over the river — will remain open, while Ellis Boulevard may or may not, depending on what the ultimate crest ends up being. Ellis Road will remain closed until after Tuesday, pending future forecasts.

Road closures as of Sunday include these and a few others:

— The intersection of Q Avenue NW & Eighth Street NW

— Old River Road SW from Ely Road SW to Sunshine Street SW

— Otis Road SE between Cargill and Fish Hatchery

— Ellis Road NW from River Bluff Drive NW to Covington Road NW

David Cousins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the forecast for the Cedar Rapids area over the next several days looks positive.

“The precipitation forecast is dry pretty much through this next Saturday,” he said. A few days of dry weather should help water levels drop closer to normal and give the river more room to absorb any future rainfall, he added.

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The Cedar River in Cedar Rapids is projected to fall below minor flood stage — 12 feet — by Thursday.

But while Cedar Rapids appears to have dodged a bullet, some businesses and residents still are feeling the impact road closures have had on commutes and business.

Near Pierson’s Flower Shop & Greenhouses, at 1800 Ellis Blvd. NW, the intersection of Q Avenue and Eighth Street NW is closed. A nearby stretch of Ellis Boulevard was blocked offer for a period earlier in the week.

While customers still can get to his flower shop, store owner Al Pierson said he has seen a noticeable dip in foot traffic.

“It doesn’t take water on my property to impact my business. The streets close and the traffic to my store is much lower. It’s been quiet,” he said.

In addition to physical road blocks, Pierson said, the threat of flooding also can take a psychological toll — customers don’t spend money when they’re worried of rising floodwater.

The neighborhood around his business suffered a major hit in the historic 2008 flood, damaging scores of homes and leaving swathes of open spaces as the city leveled destroyed properties. And as another flood threatened in 2016, it was home to temporary sand barriers, berms and closed streets for days.

“It impacts the psyche of the neighborhood, certainly in the customers. It’s stressful, so it definitely has an impact,” Pierson said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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