Continued Flooding in Iowa – Updated Friday @ 10:00 PM

*** This Post will remain as a sticky until midday Saturday June 21. ***

We decided to put a fresh post up. The prior running post should be just below. Useful flood-related links can be found in the sidebar.

The Floods Of 2008 – Other Postings
> High School Video of Receding Flood Waters

> What’s a Federal Government To Do?

> Gas Tax to Pay For Flood Damage?

> Red Cross Needs Money

> Des Moines, Iowa Flooding – Updated Saturday @ 8:30 PM (Original Running Post)
> Des Moines To Lift General Evacuation at 6:00 PM

> Iowa General Assembly May Return

> Des Moines Will Evacuate Flood Plains – * Updated *

> State Political Conventions in Iowa POSTPONED!

> Interstate 80 In Iowa – Big Detour – ** Correction **

(Sunday 4:30 PM)

Good News:

  • The water level in Des Moines continues to recede. The downtown bridges are open, and the evacuation order for most of the city from Friday has been lifted.
  • The Iowa River in Iowa City is not rising as quickly as expected, and officials believe the river may be close to cresting.
  • The Cedar River in Cedar Rapids continues to recede.

Bad News:

  • The Birdland area, including North High School, is still covered with water and continues to be under a mandatory evacuation order. North High has had an initial assessment which shows no flood damage on the 1st floor, but the lower floors cannot yet be accessed for assessment.
  • Iowa City has significant flooding.
  • Cedar Rapids continues to be under a mandatory evacuation. As the water is receding, significant damage is coming to light.
  • Ottumwa has issued a voluntary evacuation order.
  • Park View Evangelical Free Church in Iowa City worked hard to get a temporary sandbag levee built around the church building, but the water level exceeded the height that was built. The building is full of water.
  • Other cities downriver have yet to be impacted. They will.
  • Iowa DOT is recommending that Iowans not travel right now unless necessary.


(Sunday 9:30 PM)

More good news… Ottumwa has cancelled their evacuation. Evidently, the evacuation was called in anticipation of flash flooding in the event of heavy rains. The weather, however, held up and no flash flooding occurred.

According to a release from Wapello County, the revised river forecast is calling for a lower crest, 20.6 feet at midnight Sunday night and that level is expected to remain constant into the week.

The levee system in Ottumwa is designed to hold river levels over 4 feet beyond what is being forecasted.

Also, six more counties, including Polk County (where Des Moines resides) have been approved for federal disaster assistance. This brings the total number to 29, out of 83 that have been declared disaster areas by the state of Iowa. More information on the disaster declarations and other state information regarding the floods can be found at:

I-80 Detour

Regarding the closure of Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa, as of 9:45 PM Sunday, the DOT has not changed the status of this closure. I’d like to you about the designated detour, which, although it is 110 miles of extra travel, will be better than trying to figure out a way around yourself. Some friends of mine returning from Chicago to Des Moines were told they could work their way around to the south and save some time and found every path closed… they lost several hours of travel time because of these attempts. Please use the prescribed route for easiest travel.

(Monday @ 4:00 PM)

I-80 Detour

Interstate 80 is NOW OPEN. The Iowa DOT has inspected the bridge over the Cedar River and it is safe for travel. The river has receded enough that it is no longer spilling water on the roadway.

(Monday @ 10:00 PM)

Well, the river levels around Des Moines are continuing to go down. Levels around downtown Des Moines will be in the “moderate” flood stage level by Tuesday morning. Lots of cleanup here.

So far, there have been 5 deaths attributed to the flooding in Iowa.

At lake Red Rock, some excellent video coverage by a high school student, Jake Kilgus. Well done, Jake!

Lots of road damage being found as flood waters recede.

In southeast Iowa, Keokuk is predicted to hit the previous record level sometime Tuesday evening, and may crest almost a foot above that record.

In Iowa City, the Iowa River is receding. Lots of buildings at the University of Iowa campus were damaged, along with residential areas.

Governor Culver continues to promote a positive light on the future, that Iowans are strong (which they are) and will rebuild. This will become a political challenge for the state, but I suspect it will be a healthy one.

(Monday @ 11:45 PM)

I’ve been checking around, and fellow blogger Brian at Liberty Pundit provides some good perspective from Ottumwa and the impact on that city. Sounds like he’s not doing as well as I am here and could use some help.

(Tuesday @ 12:00 PM)

Looting is becoming an issue. It’s sad to say, but it’s likely that only a small percentage of looters will be caught. If your property isn’t washed away, it might end up gone anyhow.

Also this morning, the federal government released a statement indicating there could be numberous (they’ve indicated 27 at this time) levee overflows along the Mississippi over the coming days. A levee has already been breached in Gulfport, Illinois, which is on the opposite side of the Mississippi from Burlington, Iowa. A bridge between the two cities is now closed as a result.

Waterloo, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines all continue to see water levels recede. Ottumwa appears to be holding at its crest of 20.59 feet, which is 10.5 feet above flood stage. Cities along the Mississippi at and south of Keokuk mostly continue to rise. North of Davenport are defintely receeding. Between Davenport and just north of Keokuk water is either about to crest, cresting, or just starting to recede. I’m not really sure about Burlington… it appears to have suddenly and dramatically receded in the last 5 hours. I’m not sure if the levee breach or some other impact is causing the water to recede or if the measuing equipment is malfunctioning… there seem to be a few places here and there where the equipment is failing.

Just want to say “thanks” to Sister Toldjah, Bitsblog, Bluecrab Boulevard, and Michelle Malkin for bringing the plight of those of us in the midwest to people’s attention.

Finally a neat story out of Omaha (I know, it’s not Iowa, but this was cool). A 12-year-old boy, who is very comfortable swimming in the Platte River, jumped in and was sucked in by the heavier than normal current. Added to that, the bank had eroded and he couldn’t get any footing. As the boy yelled for help, his 4-year-old Labrador retriever jumped into the water, swam to the kid who grabbed the dog by the neck, and towed him back to shore. Absolutely amazing!

I got to get me one of those Labs.

(Tuesday 9:00 PM)

Several roads in Des Moines were opened up to traffic today, including 2nd Avenue and Fleur Drive. All of the river levels in the Des Moines metro area are now at or below “moderate” flood stage and continue to recede.

Interstate 380 in eastern Iowa opened again to traffic this morning.

Ottumwa is still running at crest level.

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are both still well above “major” flood stage, but continuing to recede.

According to current levels and predictions by the National Weather Service, it appears that at cities upriver from and including Muscatine are receding. Cities south of Muscatine are still moving up and have not apparently crested yet. Burlington’s graph looks a little goofy, but seems to show the water rising at this time.

It would be good to continue praying for people in these cities, and those who have been devastated, and to continue watching events as they unfold.

Legislative Leaders in Iowa are continuing to talk about a special session of the General Assembly, which makes sense. The Governor is doing a good job of expressing the need to prioritize working on the current relief effort AND establishing a solid assessment of the costs before holding a session. More here.

(Wednesday 6:30 AM)

Well, some Cedar Rapids residents have been able to start returning to their homes. Inspection teasms precede them to ensure there are no safety concerns. It’s good news for them… the start down the long road of rebuilding.

(Wednesday 12:00 PM)

Perhaps it’s coming, as the graph shows, in fits and starts, but Burlington officials reported early this morning that the Mississippi River level was slowly receding. The graph shows the levels actually doing that overnight, but that since about 4 AM it appears to have risen again. Since I’m not on site there, and I’m not seeing any other updated information, I’m not sure what to say about the level. Hopefully by the end of the day we’ll see it going doing more definitively. There are evidently is a small area of town in Burlington, however, that is under water.

Meanwhile, Gulfport Illinois, across the river from Burlington where the levee broke, is under 10 feet of water. I cannot even imagine how I could live through the deluge that brought that on.

(Wednesday 10:30 PM)

Brian at Liberty Pundit tells me that the water level in Ottumwa is still not going down (consistent with the River Levels report). Based on the latest graph, it looks like it’s just now starting to recede, ever so slightly.

Driving by the Raccoon River in downtown Des Moines this afternoon, it was looking much better (almost normal), and it expected to move below Flood Stage sometime Thursday morning. The Des Moines River downtown is still in the “Moderate” Stage range, but is receding ahead of the predicted schedule.

The Mississippi River at Burlington is still climbing, and is expected to crest for what appears to be the third time sometime midmorning Thursday.

Waterloo is now below Flood Stage. Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Muscatine are all receding. Keokuk is sort of fluttering. It is expected to start receding sometime Friday.

There are still road closures throughout the state, both from flooding and damage caused by the flooding. I suggest you check your route at Iowa DOT Road Conditions and Des Moines Road Closures or similar sources for the city you are traveling from/in/to. Be careful.

KCCI-TV’s web site has some aerial videos of flooding around Iowa.

(Friday 10:00 PM)

Last Sticky Update (I hope).

Water levels continue to decline throughout Iowa, although Keokuk is acting a little oddly, probably due to a variety of water sources hitting them. Iowa City, Ottumwa, Burlington, Rock Island (Illinois), Keokuk, Keosauqua, and points along the Mississippi south of Davenport are all still above “Major” stage flooding.

There are still a handful of road closures in Des Moines, quite a few yet throughout the state of Iowa. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Burlington, and possibly other cities are still dealing with bad conditions and water still flooding areas.

And many, such as in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, are already starting to count the cost, deal with the emotional anguish of significant personal loss, cleaning up what they can, and planning for the next stage, whether it be to rebuild, abandon, or live with what they have. The hard part starts now.

President Bush was nice enough to stop and visit Cedar Rapids, and John McCain also made some stops in flood ravaged areas. I haven’t heard about any national Democrats yet checking things out yet. They’re too busy figuring out how much money they can send us, I think.

Elsewhere I’ve noted some high school video of receding waters in the northing part of the state.

And here’s one I don’t get. Every time I watch the national media report on this disaster, they get something wrong. My favorite now is today’s Anderson Cooper show where he had someone (didn’t catch their name) talking about the situation, trying to explain why the Mississippi is so flooded, and the guy says “10 inches of rain in Des Moines was a big factor”. 10 inches of rain in Des Moines, I’m not sure over how many days, but that rain had little to do with the flooding… the rain north and northwest of Des Moines, that was the big factor for this part of the state. Heavy rain in Des Moines. Those guys should try talking to the weather and Army Corps of Engineers folks here to get their info instead of trying to figure it out for themselves.

We’ll continue to keep the “Floods of 2008” sidebar available and will certainly keep you up-to-date with fresh postings if major things happen here in Iowa. Otherwise, I’ll be removing the sticky on this post sometime Saturday so that fresh content is more evident. I also plan to post updated photos of the area as the floodwaters recede in the next few days.

I really appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve focused more on this disaster and less on the political scene lately. I also appreciate the great feedback.

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.


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