‘I’ve never seen it this bad’
Local and state officials have been very busy the past two days dealing with flooded roadways.
Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius said there have been a few more roads closed since yesterday afternoon due to high water.
“We closed 125th between Maple and Nutmeg in Kalona,” Thorius said, “and Dogwood south of Washington at the McKain’s River Access by the Skunk River.”
Thorius said W61, also known as Riverside Road, is closed.
“We closed it yesterday about noon,” he said. “We’re trying to keep people off of it for their own safety.”
Thorius was at G38 this morning inspecting the damage. He said there wasn’t water over the road there anymore. There is some debris that needs to be cleaned up before the road reopens, but Thorius was optimistic.
“Hopefully, it will be open later this afternoon,” he said.
Mel Miller, from the Washington County Secondary Roads Department, was putting up a fence on the south side of W61 this morning.
“People are still trying to drive over the closed roads,” he said. “That is why I’m putting the fence up.”
Miller has worked for the county for 18 years.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said.
Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) engineer Jim Armstrong has been dealing with a lot of road closures. Washington County is part of District 5 in the Iowa DOT system. District 5 goes all the way from Warren County to the Mississippi River, Armstrong said.
“I’ve got my hands full,” Armstrong said. “Right now there are over 20 counties with many road closures.”
Included in those road closures are Highway 1 and Highway 22 in Kalona, and Highway 22 in Riverside by the casino.
“Once the water recedes enough, we’ll go out and do inspections,” he said. “If it’s a bridge like Highway 1 in Kalona, we’ll have people come over from the bridge and structures department to do the inspection. If it’s a roadway, we’ll do temporary repairs to get it re-opened again and then do the long-term repairs later.”
Washington County Emergency Management coordinator Larry Smith has been in contact with the Kalona and Wellman communities to see what assistance they need.
“We’ve had private individuals in Kalona ask for sandbags,” Smith said. “In Wellman residents can get flood cleanup kits from the Red Cross.”
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar said his office has received calls about people moving barricades and driving around them.
“That’s mostly happening on the secondary roads,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar said he has been keeping an eye on Highway 22 by the casino.
“If water gets onto the pavement, then we might go over and evacuate the residents that live along Highway 22,” Dunbar said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Phillip of the Quad Cities said the English River in Kalona is near its crest.
“It should be near 22 feet this afternoon,” Phillip said, “and should start falling later this afternoon.”
Before the rainfall this week, the English River was measuring at 6.6 feet deep, Phillip said. He said there is more rain predicted for next week but it’s nothing like what Iowa has seen the past couple of days.