Public Safety

Cedar River crest revised downward in Cedar Rapids

Crews continue to prepare as major flood stage still expected

Boathouses are rendered unreachable in the floodwater in Ellis Harbor along Ellis Road Northwest in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The Cedar River is expected to crest at 17.5 feet Tuesday afternoon. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Boathouses are rendered unreachable in the floodwater in Ellis Harbor along Ellis Road Northwest in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The Cedar River is expected to crest at 17.5 feet Tuesday afternoon. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Forecasters on Tuesday lowered their prediction for the crest of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids by nearly a foot, saying the worst will come Saturday afternoon.

While below the 19.7 foot crest forecast Monday night, the revised forecast of an 18.6 foot crest nonetheless still is considered to be in major flood stage. And if the predictions hold true, it would be highest water level of three floods in the past month and the seventh most severe flood in the city’s recorded history.

The recent forecast predicts the river will crest Saturday afternoon, which is sooner than the crest earlier predicted to arrive Sunday afternoon.

The National Weather Service placed a large swath of Eastern Iowa under a flash-flood watch into Wednesday, saying rain on top of already saturated soil will cause ponding and rising creeks and rivers.

Cedar Rapids officials say they are continuing to monitor river levels and work closely with meteorologists at the weather service.

“These projections are largely dependent on the amount of rainfall that occurs over the next several days, and crest predictions may change,” according to a statement from the city.

City crews focused Tuesday on temporary protection efforts to prevent leaks from the underground, including plugging storm sewer drains and using pumps.

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“Crews also will be placing concrete cones over manholes to prevent river backups,” according to the statement. “Pumps are used to prevent rain water from pooling in streets when the underground storm sewer system has been closed off to the river. “

Two permanent pump stations located by the Sinclair levee and NewBo can also be activated to pump rain water back into the river.

The city is preparing to protect to the 20-foot river level, and crews have started 24-hour shifts to monitor and respond as needed.

The river level will be assessed again Wednesday to determine the appropriate level of protection.

At this time, the Cedar Rapids is not opening sandbagging stations but has closed more low-lying roads:

l Penn Avenue NW from First Street to Ellis Boulevard.

l First Street NW from Penn Avenue to O Avenue

l Second Street NW from K Avenue to L Avenue

l Otis Road SE from Cargill to the Prairie Park Fishery

l A Street SW from C Street to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

l A Street SW from 17th Street to the compost facility

l Bowling Street SW from C to A streets

The city said its boat ramps will close at 7 a.m. Wednesday and remain barricaded until the river recedes to 13 feet. Current predictions show that will not be until early next week.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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