Ice jams cause Cedar Rapids street flooding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ice jams cause Cedar Rapids street flooding


Streets in northwest Cedar Rapids are flooding due to ice jams in the Cedar River.

Several streets have been closed because of the flooding. That includes Ellis Blvd NW between O Avenue NW and 18th Street NW. Business owners near there are worried they'll be flooded again. The area was hit hard during the floods of 2008. Business owners say they had ten feet of water then.

Employees at Pierson's Flower Shop are among those who remember 2008 when floodwater rushed into Cedar Rapids. They watched Tuesday as flood water came creeping in again.

"(It's) bringing back bad memories," aid Lisa Rolfes, Pierson's Flower Shop. "It's about three inches away on 8th St. to our back door coming in through our back way."

Some residents in homes called friends for help. However, cars could not get through the water to help families evacuate their belongings. City crews warned many to move their cars earlier Tuesday. Rich Toomson tried to help people evacuate their home...but couldn't get through.

"Their house is not flooded yet but the water is now coming up through their yard and they're packing their things up, putting it up higher as I'm sure everybody around here is," said Toomsen.

The flooding is being caused by ice jams in the Cedar River. A large accumulation of ice is caught near the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge upstream from the 5-in-1 dam. City crews say it happens a lot during spring in Cedar Rapids but is worse this year because of the extremely cold temperatures  all winter long. 

"As the ice goes out we have a little bit of a dam," said Mike Duffy, Street Operations Superintendent. "Usually it breaks free. With the colder temperatures right now we're not having that happen."

Many were left wondering what could be done to prevent the jams.

"The ice jams are just an act of mother nature so we're just responding to that," said Duffy. "The thing that we're seeing a problem with now is the water is coming up through our storm sewer so it ends up on the street."

They're streets many believed would have city built flood protection by now, which is why they re-opened doors after the 2008 floods.

"Where can we move the greenhouses," asked Rolfes. "We're known for our greenhouses and our orchids so that's why we reopened back there."

So residents and businesses crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

City crews began flood protection measures Monday. Tuesday they were helping residents lay sandbags free of charge.

Crews are also pumping water out of the streets.

Residents in the neighborhoods along Ellis Boulevard can call 319-286-5826 if they need assistance or sandbags.

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