Crews search for teen in flooded Iowa storm drain

A semi trailer drives through the flood water at Jefferson Street and West Mullan Ave. in Waterloo, Iowa, Monday, June 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Waterloo Courier, Matthew Putney)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Rescue crews were resuming the search early Tuesday for a teenager who was swept away in a Cedar Rapids storm drain after heavy rainfall overwhelmed the eastern Iowa city’s sewer system.

The 17-year-old boy was swept away by the fast-moving water in the drain in the grounds of an elementary school around 7:20 p.m. Monday, city public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow said in a statement. Buelow did not explain how the teenager ended up in the drain.

Early Tuesday, Cedar Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Gibson said he still considered the operation a rescue mission. Buelow said he expected the search to resume after 8 a.m.

One of two friends with the teenager tried to save him but was also dragged into the drain, Buelow said. That teen traveled along the drain for more than a mile, eventually emerging in Cedar Lake, he said. The boy walked to a hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities have not released the teens’ names.

Gibson said the storm drain feeds into an underground concrete pipe about 3 feet wide at the entrance. That pipe runs about a mile and a half southwest and empties into Cedar Lake.

Late Monday, rescuers searched Cedar Lake and walked sewer line paths, but were unable to enter the underground sewer system because of the dangerously fast current, the fire department said in a statement.

Gibson said early Tuesday that conditions were still too dangerous for rescue crews to go underground but that they would assess that situation throughout the day.

The city of Cedar Rapids said Monday that recent heavy rainfall had overwhelmed the storm sewer system in many parts of the city, causing water to rise in the streets and rush through neighborhoods. The sanitary sewer system also became overwhelmed and overflowed.

A band of strong storms washed across the Midwest on Monday evening. Police said a man in northern Indiana was killed when a tree fell onto a trailer home and another died when strong winds caused a building to collapse in eastern Iowa. The raging storms left hundreds of thousands of people without power across Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.

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