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Cedar Rapids Recovering "Very Quickly" From Historic Flood

Sarah Boden/IPR
Sandbags used in temporary barriers are piled in the parking lot across from the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids.

The Cedar River is now below the “major flood stage” level in Cedar Rapids. The city is breathing a sigh of relief as it recovers from the second-worst flood in its history. 

Public Works Director Jen Winter reports that Cedar Rapids is recovering "very quickly," and crews have begun to remove flood barriers near the city's bridges. The entire evacuation zone will reopen at 7:00 am Saturday morning. 

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz attributes the relative lack of damage to the commitment of and preparation by city workers.

"Many, many employees put themselves at risk during this flood," says Pomeranz. "Employees worked not just during the day but in dangerous conditions throughout 24-hour periods."

Roughly 5,000 homes were evacuated during the flooding. As people return home, city officials urge caution due to potential water damage to electrical systems. 

"Our initial assessments have all been from the exterior of proprieties," says Building Services Director Kevin Ciabatti. "Standing water in basements present an unknown danger from the exterior, episodically when your electrical system, furnace or water heaters have been submerged."

The Red Cross also warns people to throw out food that might have spoiled, and to be wary of wild animals that may have enter properties during the evacuation. 

In addition to wild animals, spoiled food and electrical fires, Iowans grappling with flood recovery also need to be on guard for frauds. High-profile disasters attract scammers looking to take advantage of a person’s vulnerabilities. 

"They come in and take people’s money, and promise to clean up the house, or repair the house and don’t do it," says Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. "Or they do it in a totally quick, real substandard way."

Fraudsters generally ask for most or all of the money up front. It's best to use local contractors and not pay for a service until the work is complete.

"Sometimes (contractors) need some money to buy materials, and that can be reasonable," says Miller, "but make the check out then to the hardware store or someplace where they are going to go."

Miller also reminds people, in Iowa when it comes to door-to-door sales, you can revoke a contract within three days of signing an agreement.