Barriers, berms, sandbags holding back the floodwaters in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Flooding conditions eased in Cedar Rapids overnight as the Cedar River crest’s projection was lowered and a temporary flood wall appeared to be holding.

The National Weather Service said the river began falling below a revised projection of 22 feet to 21.8 feet in the city’s second-worst flooding. The original projection was 23 feet, which is 11 feet above flood stage.

Predictions are well below the 31-foot record Cedar Rapids saw during 2008 flooding.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett told The Gazette early Tuesday that there were no “serious problems” overnight.

Barriers and berms as well as sandbags appeared to have held back floodwaters.

“It looks like it’s working and if it continues to work over the next critical 24 hours, we can say, ‘We did it, we saved the city,'” he said.

Corbett warned the situation is still dangerous.

“It’ll be another 24 hours before we can say we’re in the clear,” he said.

Sara Baughman, utilities communication coordinator for the city, said no breaches were reported overnight.

“There are pumps running in that area pumping water over the levees, but that was also anticipated,” Baughman said.

Rising waters of rivers and creeks have forced more than 10,000 residents of Cedar Rapids from their homes and businesses. Over three days last week, upward of 10 inches of rain pummeled eastern Iowa and western Wisconsin.

Some evacuated residents have been allowed to check on their property, Baughman said.

“We have been allowing access on occasion if they provide their ID and proof of residency,” she said. “Obviously, we would prefer they go outside of the curfew hours, so wait until 7 a.m.”

If flood measures hold over the next 24 hours, Corbett said he hopes evacuees could return to their homes by Friday.

City crews, contractors and volunteers installed a temporary flood wall, costing $5 million.

“It may have been costly … but I’d rather clean up some sand and pick up some unused sandbags than go through months and months and months of mucking out people’s homes and businesses,” Corbett said.

Greg Buelow, the city of Cedar Rapids’ public safety coordinator, said the worst is not necessarily over.

“The temporary flood protection systems have held to this point; however, there are no guarantees,” Buelow said to CNN. “We are still strongly encouraging people to evacuate.”

The Iowa National Guard deployed more than 400 soldiers to help people leave their homes. The Iowa Red Cross opened two shelters.

Residents had a curfew from 8 p.m. Monday night to 7 a.m. Tuesday. Wayne Jerman, the city’s police chief, said the curfew will likely remain in effect until the Cedar River’s levels have receded.



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