Sep 23, 2016

Record flooding swamps Iowa

Osage, IA
Shell Rock, IA
Cedar Falls, IA
USA
by
Kevin Hardy, MacKenzie Elmer and Molly Longman
,
Cedar Rapids
Holly Cole, right, and Michael Ridenou, second from right, work to build sandbag walls at the Alley Cuts on Main building along West Main Street Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, in Manchester. Photo: Jessica Reilly, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald AP
Holly Cole, right, and Michael Ridenou, second from right, work to build sandbag walls at the Alley Cuts on Main building along West Main Street Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, in Manchester. Photo: Jessica Reilly, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald AP

Heavy rain has led to record river flooding in northeastern Iowa, with several locations along the Cedar and Shell Rock Rivers either at or nearing all-time record high crests.

Cedar Rapids, the state's second-largest city, is awaiting its turn as the big mass of floodwater surges downstream. With the Cedar River rapidly rising, the mayor of Cedar Rapids promised residents Friday that the city would not be caught "off guard" like it was during 2008 flooding.

The river should crest at 25.3 feet on Monday — well below the June 2008 crest of 31 feet — but still the city's second-highest level on record, the National Weather Service said. Records go back to at least the early 1850s.

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The town of Osage reached a record high crest Friday and the town of Shell Rock should reach a record high crest Saturday.

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Cedar Falls officials have been talking to residents in low-lying neighborhoods about the rising waters and their option to evacuate. The dike system protecting downtown Cedar Falls was expected to hold, but Public Safety Director Jeff Olson said it will be patrolled. The weather service said the river was expected to crest at 99.8 feet Saturday afternoon — a little more than 2 feet below the record crest of 102.1 feet in June 2008.

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Another eastern Iowa river, the Shell Rock, also has forced evacuations as it left its banks.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday marks the highest the Shell Rock River has been since the federal agency began monitoring the water body in 1953.

The latest provisional reading is 21.25 feet, a full foot over the 2008 level, said Clint Vonschepen, a hydrologic technician with USGS