Cedar Rapids, population 120,000, is one of the hardest hit. Last week, the Cedar River swelled out of its banks, covering 9.2 square miles of dry land and forcing the evacuation of 3,900 homes. Most of downtown, including city hall, the police station and many businesses, was shut down. Eight bridges, including Interstate 380, were closed at least temporarily. A railroad bridge collapsed.
The city set up a perimeter manned by police and the National Guard around the most flooded areas to prevent looting and enable teams of inspectors to ensure that homes were structurally sound. Now, those barriers are being moved closer to the river, and more and more people are gaining access to their homes.
"There's no playbook for this," said Brad Novak, a detective with the Cedar Rapids police department who was manning a checkpoint Monday.
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