Public Safety

Protections hold as Cedar River crest passes

But river remains in major flood stage for now

The Sixteenth Avenue Southeast bridge is seen 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)
The Sixteenth Avenue Southeast bridge is seen 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)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar River crested a little higher than expected — and remains at major flood stage — but protections have held in Cedar Rapids, officials said Wednesday.

The crest was 17.94 feet at 7 a.m., nearly half a foot higher than had been predicted over the previous few days.

The river plateaued around the 17.9 level for hours before beginning its descent about 10 a.m., according to river gauge data provided by the National Weather Service.

“The protections are holding and in place and we found no damage,” said Justin Koller, Cedar Rapids’ sewer operations manager.

The city had taken steps to protect to the 18 foot level, and Koller noted that even if the river had topped 18 feet the city was in a strong position to respond.

Crews are aware of the lowest points and could have targeted responses to those areas, he said.

“When we set our flood protection to 18, that’s not like if we get another inch it is going to fail,” Koller said.

The water is expected to drop below major flood stage — 16 feet — on Thursday evening. The river is expected to continue receding to below flood stage on Monday, according to the river gauge data.

Road closures will remain in place for now, and will be re-evaluated Thursday morning.

Koller described a vigilant past 24 hours of city crews monitoring the temporary protections — including a sand barrier wall behind the Cedar Rapids Police Department, aboveground pumps to deal with rain and pooling water and plugs preventing spills from the underground storm sewer system.

One focus was monitoring ponding in Riverside Park, where water comes up from the ground, he said.

As the river goes down, crews will need to inspect roads that had submerged, but they don’t anticipate finding damage, Koller said.

Koller urged residents to stay off barricaded roads and to allow city crews space to safely and quickly remove the temporary protections “so we can return to normal operations.”

The forecast calls for Thursday to be dry, but a 20 to 50 percent chance of showers each day through next Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

For the latest updates on road closures and flood-related information, go online to the city’s website — Cedar-Rapids.org.

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

 

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