CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's second-largest city has managed to keep flooding at bay largely because of barriers that were widely used to protect soldiers in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Crews in Cedar Rapids hastily erected Hesco barriers along nearly 10 miles of the Cedar River through neighborhoods and downtown. As of Tuesday morning, the sand-filled containers had protected thousands of properties, some up to 4 feet beneath the surging waterway.

The river crested Tuesday at around 22 feet, a foot lower than an earlier projection.  It had fallen about a foot as of 4 a.m. Wednesday.

The barriers were invented by British entrepreneur James Heselden, a former coal miner who used them to stop erosion on his property. They were then used by the United Kingdom's military to replace sandbags that protected soldiers from blasts in Bosnia. The U.S. military later used the barriers extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.


As of Tuesday morning, city officials said the barriers had prevented most damage but that some buildings and homes near the river will likely have water in their basements.

City workers and contractors worked through the night to pump out water that seeped through the barriers and that came up through the sewer system.

Firefighters and police also rescued a woman who was swept away Monday afternoon by the river.