Cedar Rapids Flood 2008

Photos taken downtown June 12th, 13th and 14th.

The Cedar River has overrun its banks at historic levels.  Previous record was 20 ft above flood stage.  This week's flood reached a little over 31 ft.  The entire downtown has been devastated, as well as the adjoining neighborhoods.

As of Saturday June 14, the water started to recede at a rate of 2" per hour.  It will be days before the city can determine what has been lost.  The library, Paramount Theater, Smulekoff's Department Store and countless other facilities and businesses are affected. 

Video taken on Thursday can be found at:

Video taken Friday morning in front of the Art Museum and Five Season's Center can be found at:

To see photos of the city in the weeks and months after the flood:
Cedar Rapids Flood Aftermath 2008


Photos taken June 12th

These photos taken June 12th while river was "only" 24 ft.  Most areas of the downtown area was still accessible via the SkyWalk system.  By Thursday night, the parking garages and SkyWalks were well within the flood zone.

View of the downtown Ground Transportation Center

Entrance to the Ground Transportation Center.  We were able to peer into the building from the SkyWalk and you could hear the water rushing into the building.  The seats in the waiting area was only sticking out of the water by 2-3".

Cedar Rapids Public Library.  The contents of the library is likely lost, as the final water levels had to be close to 6' deep.

North entrance to Library

North side of Cedar Rapids Library, looking east away from river.

Looking west towards Science Station and IMAX buildings.  Library to the left.

Science Station and IMAX building.  Note that the water will rise another 3 to 4' before the flood was over.

4th Ave, looking east.  Intermec is the building upper center.

Closeup of vehicle from photo, above.

Looking south on 2nd Street between Intermec (left) and Library (right).

Looking west down 3rd Avenue.  Paramount Theater to the left. 


Looking west down 2nd Ave towards river.

Looking down 4th Ave.  Two blocks from Cedar River.

Looking west across river at jail building down 4th Ave.

Looking north along 2nd Street.  The main building in front is the Paramount Theater.

Paramount Theater side exits on 2nd Street

View from parking garage.  Far left in distance is the new YMCA building.  The tall building on the right is the Great American Building, sitting on the river bank.

Railroad bridge lost during the early hours of June 12th.  The bridge had been weighted down with rail cars loaded with rocks in the hopes that it could be saved.


Photos taken the morning of June 13th.


5th Street and 4th Ave looking south.

True North business at 5th St and 4th Ave, 5 blocks from river.  (Note added 2011:  This is the site of the new library.)

In front of the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, 5 blocks from the river.  The museum was supposedly outside of the 500 yr flood plan.

View of 2nd Ave.

View looking down 2nd Ave, 4 blocks from river.

The main street of Cedar Rapids, First Avenue.  The building to the right is the convention center and Five Seasons Center.

View looking west down 1st Ave towards river.

Industrial area adjacent to Cedar Lake, north of downtown.

Photos taken the morning of June 14th.

May's Island (right) on Saturday morning.  The tops of the bridges are starting to peek through the water. 

Mercy Hospital had to be evacuated the morning of June 13th due to high water (10 blocks from the river).  The hospital was just inside the 500 year flood plan.  Photos from just 24 hours earlier showed water 3-4 foot deep alongside the hospital.  All patients were moved to St Luke's Hospital and to Waterloo.  Water did enter the facility and it will require significant cleaning before it can reopen.

The photo above and photos below were taken the morning of June 14th.

Ellis Harbor from across the Cedar River.  During the flood, a number of the houseboats broke loose, floated down the river and crashed into the railroad bridge downtown. 

Another photo of Ellis Harbor.

 Aftermath photos taken June 18th.

The following photos were taken just after the downtown area was opened to the public.  Photos were taken to demonstrate the high watermarks throughout.

Armstrong Building at 3rd St and 3rd Ave.

Candy Store at 2nd St and 3rd Ave.  Watermark is at the top of the door.

Building directly across the alley west from Bruegger's Bagels.

Smulekoff's, looking north along 1st St

South Entrance to Smulekoff's.  Note the water line above doors.

Interior of Smulekoff's

South side of Smulekoff's.  Note the watermark in comparison to my 5'6" tall son.  The water must have been 10 to 11 ft.

Ground Transportation Center.  Watermark near the top of glass.

Interior of office at Ground Transportation Center.

Interior of Science Station.  Note the fish. 

West entrance to Public Library.  Watermark is approx 5' 8".

Me, standing next to library doors.

Photo of the interior of the library.  The watermark can be seen just under the Newspapers sign.  Library officials were initially optimistic, but later declared the entire first floor was lost.

Watermark on the back of the library (near the drop slot).

The force of the water pulled this parking meter out of the ground and pushed it a number of yards from its initial position.

The water also bent this sign over in front of Ground Transportation Center.

The old Great Furniture Mart building.  There seemed to be quite the water flow through this area.

Aftermath photos taken June 20th.

Photos of the houseboats from Ellis Harbor that are stuck in the downtown railroad bridge.  In addition to the houseboats, the railroad bridge is chock full of garbage, barrels and debris.  As of Friday, only a couple of the houseboats had been saved.  The rest may be doomed to break up and continue down the river.

This houseboat finally slipped under the railroad bridge when water levels dropped.  It promptly sank in the Cedar River.

Another view of the sunken houseboat.  Cedar Rapids city hall in the distance.

More Cedar Rapids Flood photos

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All photos by Evan, Erik and Nicole Hindman

All photos copyrighted.  Do not use without expressed permission.