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Cedar Rapids Flooding

This isn't my usual writing fare, but so many people are wondering how my family is doing that I think pointing them to the blog makes more sense than writing a bunch of similar e-mails.

I grew up in (and my parents still live in) Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Due to the recent series of storms in the midwest, the Cedar River running through the center of town is flooding.

Here's a live river level chart. The large gap in the data is because the gague was lost and had to be replaced.

There was severe flooding back in 1993; at that time the river reached 18ft. Flood stage is considered to be 12ft. The record crest was 20ft in 1851 (and also in 1929). Currently the river is at nearly 30ft and is expected to crest around 32ft Friday.

Let's see if I can make this sound as bad as possible: they're calling this a 500-year flood. Most of the bridges downtown are closed. The CRANDIC railway bridge collapsed. Downtown is flooded and power is out in that area. Mercy Hospital isn't accepting new patients. The city is under curfew and mandatory evacuation for the whole 500-year floodplain, plus anywhere within one block of the water's edge.

How's my family? Just fine. My father can get to and from work, albeit taking a significant detour to avoid the closed bridges. My mother is actually in Arizona right now visiting my sister, where it's quite dry. Our house is way up on a hill (many tens of feet) and is under absolutely no danger of flooding. The more realistic risk is that the roads at the base of the hill could flood, cutting off access.


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Tiny Island