Flood­ing threat in Iowa prompts evac­u­a­tions

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

Iowa res­i­dents left low-ly­ing ar­eas of Cedar Rapids due to the risk of flood­ing from a ris­ing river.

Res­i­dents are leav­ing low­ly­ing ar­eas of Cedar Rapids, ad­her­ing to a re­quest by authorities to clear out by 8 p.m. Sun­day due to the risk of flood­ing from the ris­ing Cedar River.

The river crested Satur­day night in Water­loo and Cedar Falls, which are about 55 miles (90 kilo­me­ters) up­stream from Cedar Rapids, which is Iowa’s sec­ond-largest city, with about 130,000 peo­ple.

The wa­ter lev­els in Cedar Falls and Water­loo were slightly lower than had been ex­pected, but they still reached lev­els that were sec­ond only to those in 2008, when a ma­jor flood dev­as­tated the re­gion.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice pre­dicted that the river will crest at 23 feet (7 me­ters) in Cedar Rapids on Tues­day morn­ing. Of­fi­cials asked those liv­ing in about 5,000 down­town homes near the river to evac­u­ate. They said it could be days be­fore peo­ple can re­turn home.

The Cedar Rapids school dis­trict said Sun­day that it is can­cel­ing classes through Wed­nes­day be­cause of the flood­ing. Dis­trict of­fi­cials will reeval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion by Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Cedar Rapids City Man­ager Jeff Pomer­anz said the city has been pre­par­ing to deal with a ma­jor flood since that of 2008, which caused bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age. City work­ers and vol­un­teers have been work­ing for days to build a tem­po­rary sys­tem of lev­ees to try to con­tain the flood­wa­ters.

“All the work is com­ing to­gether, and you can see the ben­e­fit of plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion,” Pomer­anz said.

Af­ter the 2008 flood, about 1,350 homes near the Cedar River were bought out and de­stroyed to re­duce the amount of dam­age that fu­ture floods could in­flict. About 45 acres of green space sit in that area to­day.

Un­like in 2008, res­i­dents have had more time to pre­pare for a flood. The ben­e­fit of that ex­tra time was clear in the small town of Palo up­stream where res­i­dents of more than 80 homes have evac­u­ated.

Kim Hutchins, whose home in Palo is about 10 miles up­stream from Cedar Rapids, told the Des Moines Reg­is­ter that she spent Satur­day pack­ing up her kitchen while some friends un­hooked her fur­nace in the base­ment and moved it up to the garage. Most of her fur­ni­ture was piled onto trail­ers to move.

“They’ve been telling us it was com­ing for days. Last time, we had eight or 10 hours to get out,” said Hutchins, 53, who planned to go stay with her mother.

Palo res­i­dents were be­ing urged not to use wa­ter on Sun­day be­cause of a sewer line break and area flood­ing. Of­fi­cials said they were work­ing to re­pair the sewer line quickly. In the mean­time, they were pro­vid­ing bot­tled wa­ter to res­i­dents.

Parts of south­ern Min­nesota and south­west­ern Wis­con­sin also re­mained un­der flood warn­ings on Sun­day, but it ap­peared that most of the threat of ma­jor flood­ing has passed in those states.

In the south­ern Min­nesota town of St. Clair, eight to 10 homes re­mained evac­u­ated Sun­day, but the Le Sueur River was re­ced­ing af­ter crest­ing on Fri­day.

As­sis­tant Blue Earth County Emer­gency Man­ager Eric Weller said Sun­day that “we were very lucky overnight” that not much rain fell. But he said crews were still pump­ing at the waste­water treat­ment plant’s lift sta­tion and that the town’s 870 res­i­dents should still re­frain from tak­ing show­ers or us­ing the toi­let.

Two bridges re­mained closed in LeSueur be­cause of high wa­ter, but Weller said schools were ex­pected to re­open Mon­day.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The tops of mail­boxes barely break the sur­face of flood­wa­ters from the Cedar River in the North Cedar neigh­bor­hood of Cedar Falls, Iowa on Satur­day.

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