Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Iowa flooding update

A friend had emailed, "You are on my mind every time I hear an Iowa flood/tornado story. Are you all right?" I've gotten at least a call about the Iowa flooding everyday. Here's my reply:

We are safe and sound, high and dry here in Grinnell. (The Grinnell townsite was chosen because it is a high point between Davenport and Des Moines.) Our thoughts are with our fellow Iowans along the Iowa, Cedar, Des Moines, and now Mississippi rivers.

Des Moines fared well - one levee breach flooded a neighborhood and some downtown businesses had minor flooding because of storm sewer backups. Increased protection after the 1993 floods spared Des Moines a direct hit.

Cedar Rapids did not fare as well. Cedar Rapids' flood stage is 12', their record was '20, and the forecast crest last week was 24'. The Cedar River crested just under 32'. Most of the business district and many neighborhoods were affected. The news coverage by KCRG ch. 9 was mesmerizing, especially as the water came within a block of their building. Waterloo and Cedar Falls, also on the Cedar, experienced record flooding. Waterloo had a few feet of water in its downtown. Sandbagging in Cedar Falls kept the river from topping the levee protecting downtown.

The Iowa River flows through U of I's campus in Iowa City. The flooding forced closures of 16 buildings on campus including the library, memorial union, and the journalism building. The river crested 9' above flood stage and 3' higher than the 1993 record. Because of the river's path in Iowa City, it will take time for the waters to recede there. Now, as the rivers recede, all of this water is heading downstream. Cities along the Mississippi are experiencing the swell of water.

On father's day, Sara and I drove to see the flooding first hand. The Des Moines River has cut off her family's access to Oskaloosa - a 15 mile drive is now a 40 mile drive because the road they normally drive is under the Des Moines. We took pictures which are online:



[I hope to write more on this blog, too.]

Though the rivers are receding, we're not in the clear. It will take weeks - maybe months - for rivers to stay in their banks and for fields to dry out. Some farmers may not be able to replant this year. We could use a dry summer. Many families and businesses need to clean out homes and offices of floodwater-ruined documents, furniture, and memories. Already, there are websites with info for relief efforts:

http://www.corridorrecovery.org/ (Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls)
http://www.flood2008.iowa.gov/ (Statewide site)

Again, thanks for thinking of me. Keep us - and other Iowans - in your thoughts and prayers. Organize a relief group and come to Iowa!

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