For more than a century and a half, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, avoided the historic floods that periodically swamped other cities throughout the state. But by Thursday afternoon 100 blocks of the city's downtown were swallowed in water as the Cedar River swelled 17 feet above flood stage. About 8,000 people were evacuated, a railroad bridge collapsed and power outages cut the capacity of the city's water-treatment plant by 75%. The river was expected to add another three feet on Friday, shattering its record high-water mark by 12 feet.
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