Massive flooding has forced evacuations in Cedar Rapids today. Todd Dorman is a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and works in the downtown area. "The river is just swallowing things block by block, at this point it’s already two or three blocks, perhaps more in the downtown area," Dorman says. He says police are trying to keep people back and says "it’s a pretty surreal situation."
Dorman says residents of the city knew of all the water on the Cedar River that was flowing down. He says they last couple of days they were told people should prepare within the 500-year floodplain. Dorman says people have been sandbagging and trying to get ready. "I think most people were trying to prepare as best they could, but we’ve never seen anything like this here," Dorman says.
Cedar Falls was able to hold off the Cedar River with additional sandbagging along its flood levee. Dorman says it’s a different situation in Cedar Rapids. Dorman says there are levees built in some neighborhoods, but they were built on past floods and are not high enough to hold out this much water. Officials in Cedar Rapids estimate some 9,000 people had to be evacuated.
Power is out to many areas of Cedar Rapids, and 9-1-1 service was also knocked out for a time. A railroad bridge was swept away by the water despite rail cars full of gravel placed on the bridge.