Ready for round two?
Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Smith said today that he will be watching the skies over the weekend and hoping that the rain predicted for Saturday passes by the county.
Smith said that with water in the English River remaining from the flooding that swept into Kalona Monday and additional water coming in from the Coralville Lake — a reservoir built to control flooding in the city — more flooding may be on the way. The gates of the spillway have been opened to increase the outflow, leaving water flowing from the dam at a rate of 18,000 cubic feet per second, he is concerned about additional flooding. He also said that Washington and Johnson counties have been having daily conference calls to discuss the flooding situation.
“The big question is Saturday,” he said. “It is a roll of the dice. If we get more than 1 inch of rain the English River doesn’t have room to hold it.”
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60 percent chance of rain during the day Saturday and a 40 percent chance at night. Smith said that if the rain comes, the English River will rise, as will all the tributaries throughout the county. He explained that normally the English River rises and falls quickly, because it drains into the Iowa River. With the flooding, the Iowa River is already full to capacity, giving water from the English River nowhere to go. Smith didn’t believe the river would have anywhere to go for at least two or three days.
In Johnson County, residents along the Iowa River — east of Riverside — were ordered to evacuate because of the concerns about the Coralville Lake.
“It is the domino effect,” Smith said.
He stressed people living in flood areas should be vigilant, especially after dark when flood danger is harder to recognize.
Smith also said that the situation is a great concern for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is monitoring the situation. According to the Associated Press, the Corps of Engineers has activated its emergency operations center in St. Louis, Mo. This will enable the agency to provide personnel and materials to support flood-fighting efforts. There has also been discussion of closing a lock and dam on the Mississippi River, which is expected to crest Tuesday at 9 feet above flood stage.
The road closures now in place in Washington County could be expected to last for several more days, Smith said.
Smith said that there is currently no plan to request Washington County be issued a disaster declaration. He explained that in the case of a disaster declaration, the county has exhausted all its local resources and is requesting state assistance. Currently, he said, Washington County services are able to handle the situation. He said that if there is another flash flood, that could change. Johnson County, as well as several other counties in Iowa, have been declared disasters.
If the worst happens and property is damaged by floodwaters, Smith said there are several options. He said that his office has a program called the State Individualized Assistance Program. He said that up to $5,000 of uninsured loss could be reimbursed, but it is income-based and only for people whose income is 200 percent below poverty level.
Smith also said that the Grant Wood Red Cross and the Mennonite Disaster Service could be called to assist with damage.
Kara Kelly, the regional communications officer for the American Red Cross Serving Greater Iowa, said that local Red Cross volunteers had already assisted people from Kalona who had suffered flood damage Monday.
“Every case is different,” she said. “We can provide shelter, clothing, food, and in some cases medications when someone’s living area is damaged.”
She said that inquiries about assistance should be directed to the Grant Wood Red Cross in Cedar Rapids.
She also said that a checklist of items needed to be ready in the event of a flood is available on the Red Cross Web site at <www.redcross.org.>