The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Cedar Rapids diverts a part of its arriving temporary flood protection system to Fargo; ‘We don’t have a crisis today and they do’

In City Hall, Floods on March 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

The city of Cedar Rapids had signed the contract, made the order and expected an initial delivery Tuesday of a temporary flood control system called Hesco “Concertainers.” The Conertainers are lined metal baskets, which can be deployed and filled with sand at times of high water.

Instead, the city agreed with the manufacturer to divert Cedar Rapids’ supply of Hesco baskets to Fargo, N.D., which is now being confronted by a major flood of the Red River of the North.
Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids’ public works maintenance manager, says it was an easy call and the neighborly thing to do.

Hanson said Fargo currently is at major flood stage and is facing a river that may reach a record flood level. Meanwhile, the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids is flowing at a level of about five feet, far below any flooding threat for now.

“The right answer is to be neighborly and to help another city in need,” Hanson said. “We don’t have a crisis today and they do.”

Hanson said the Cedar Rapids sentiment was little different on June 14, 2008, the day after the Cedar River crested at record flood stage in Cedar Rapids, when the city still was able to send 50,000 to 70,000 sandbags to Iowa City to help against flooding there.

In turn, the city of Cedar Rapids has received much support from outside in coming to grips with its flood disaster, he said.

The city has purchased two different systems to provide the city with some temporary flood protection should the Cedar River act up again.

In addition to the Hesco baskets, the city also has purchased a product called a tiger dam, which are bladders that get filled with water to add height to the existing levee system.

The tiger dams arrived last week.

The city’s plan is to use tiger dams to protect the Time Check area and the Hesco baskets to protect downtown and Czech Village areas should flooding threaten the city again.

The temporary systems give the city an additional two feet of protection, raising the protection to 24 feet or four feet above what had been the record flood in Cedar Rapids until last year. In June 2008, the river climbed to 31.12 feet.

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