flooding

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Cedar Rapids is taking another step toward flood recovery, with city leaders announcing the flood evacuation area would open at noon tomorrow for what City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said are, “flood-related recovery activities.”  They’re asking people who don’t have homes or businesses in the area to stay away to allow work to be done as easily as possible.

Dean Borg/IPR File

The lessons learned from the historic flood of 2008 are helping Iowa mitigate damage from this year’s flooding in northern and eastern parts of the state.

Jeff Olson is the Public Safety Director for the City of Cedar Falls. On Wednesday's Talk of Iowa, Olson told host Charity Nebbe the city recorded its second-highest water levels in this year's flooding.

After the 2008 flood, the city wrote a plan that Olson says, "tells us exactly what we need to do," when the Cedar River peaks. 

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Cedar Rapids officials are allowing some people to return to their homes and businesses, while reminding others that the flooding danger has not completely passed.

As of this morning, the Cedar River level stood at 20.7 feet.  That’s down about a foot from yesterday’s crest, but still nearly nine feet above flood stage.

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The Cedar River crested in downtown Cedar Rapids this morning, a foot lower than predicted but still 10 feet above flood stage. 

The river level was at 22 feet late this morning, and will begin slowly falling by late today. 

“It’s not over,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz at a news conference this morning.

City officials are monitoring nearly 10 miles of temporary, sand-filled Hesco barriers and earthen levees, looking for weak spots and for possible breaches. 

“We’re very confident this temporary system will work,” said Pomeranz.

Flickr / reader of the pack

If it’s not safe for people to be at home due to flooding, then it’s also not safe for pets. That’s why Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control is sheltering four-legged companions who can’t accompany the humans who are evacuating their homes.

Animal Care and Control Program Manager Diane Webber says the agency’s old building was completely flooded in 2008. The city agency's new facility is designed to accommodate more animals during times of crisis.

Iowa Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Despite the flooding of several rivers in eastern Iowa, all of Iowa’s interstate highways are open. So far only secondary roads have flooded, but that may change later this week.

As water flows down river, the Iowa Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on Interstate 80. This highway crosses Iowa, and the country, east-to-west.

Dean Borg/IPR

Cedar Rapids city leaders say they’ve done everything they possibly can to prepare for this week’s flooding, and that the next couple of days will be the most critical and dangerous period.

The Cedar River was at 20.8 feet late this afternoon, and is expected to crest at about 23 feet by tomorrow afternoon.  That would make this the second-highest to 2008’s historic flood of 31 feet.

Cedar Rapids

The Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids is expected to crest Monday at 24 feet. That’s seven feet lower than in 2008 when floodwaters ravaged the city’s downtown. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett says that forecast could change.

“We’re at the mercy of the river, we’ll be able do an adequate job of keeping most of the water in the banks of the river at 22 feet, so 24 is really go to be challenging for us and we just hope it doesn’t get any worse,” he says.

submitted photo

Ames is among the central Iowa communities recovering from heavy rains late Thursday night.

Assistant city manager Brian Phillips says parts of Ames received five inches of rain, much of it falling in about an hour.  And he says at least two manhole covers disappeared in the deluge.

"If there's a storm sewer that has a very large slug of water going through it, that can compress the air underneath the manhole cover," Phillips says, "and that compression pushes upward [and] can pop the manhole cover off."

Photo courtesy Brandon Pollock, Waterloo Courier

Updated at 10:15pm Thursday.

Sandbagging continues in communities along the Shell Rock and Cedar Rivers in northeast Iowa  after portions of Butler and Floyd county were hit with as much as a foot of rain last night. To the southeast, people in Cedar Rapids have begun building sandbag levees to protect an area devastated in 2008.

In Butler County, Sheriff Jason Johnson says volunteers who want to assist with cleanup are welcome, but sightseers are not.

Photo Courtesy of Decorah Newspapers

Flood waters in Northeast Iowa have inundated homes, and for many of those families, they'll be forced to rebuild without the benefits of flood insurance. Josh McGrath and his family were asleep in Freeport, Iowa on Wednesday when flood waters came crashing into their basement. He and his wife Miranda escaped with their three children through waist deep water outside their home to get to safety while their basement filled with water.

Winneshiek County Sheriff's Office

Mudslides and flooding of near-historic levels in northeast Iowa have washed out roads, and prompted both evacuations and school cancelations.

Winneshiek County saw the greatest amount of rainfall overnight. Some areas received more than seven or eight inches.

Winneshiek Co. Sheriff Dan Marx says he's planning for more flooding this evening, as the National Weather Service anticipates another quarter-to-half inch of rainfall.

Flickr / David Morris

New data from the Iowa DNR shows that drier than normal conditions so far this year have actually been ideal for the state.

Heavy rainfall during the autumn raised concerns that Iowa would experience flooding after the snow melted this spring. But the dryness has normalized hydrological conditions so now stream flow, soil moisture, and water supply are all in normal range. 

Flickr / Elaine Vigneault

Two mental health workers from Ankeny have been in Louisiana since Thursday, helping people affected by severe flooding in the region. Carolyn Newkirk and her husband Richard are among the hundreds of American Red Cross volunteers who have been deployed to the southern U.S..

The flooding has forced thousands to evacuate. Newkirk says some people won’t be able to return home. 

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

Parts of Iowa are still facing flooding as a result of this past weekend’s rain. The National Weather Service says as rainwater in central Iowa flows southeast into rivers and streams, agricultural fields and low-lying roads will be submerged. 

"The one thing to note though is that the streams widen as they go down stream, so they they can handle more water" says NWS meteorologist Rod Donavon. "The impacts will be lessened as we get down towards the Ottumwa area, for example, on the Des Moines River."