Water, water everywhereRain won’t benefit drought conditions in soil
In March, there is one thing you can count on in Iowa —flooding. Many areas in Washington County are dealing with just that. Top that off with the frozen ground and you get water runoff.
According to the National Weather Service eastern Iowa has received three- fourths of an inch of rain in the past 24 hours. On Sunday, a flood warning was issued for the English River near Kalona until Tuesday morning. Flood stage is 14 feet and the river is expected to crest at 18 feet.
JP VanSickle, Washington County maintenance foreman, has been working all weekend. There are several roads closed due to the flooding.
The affected areas are primarily around the English River.
“Kiwi between Highway 22 and 110th Street is closed,” he said. “Willow Street north of 130th, Poplar Boulevard, Orange Avenue, and Nutmeg Avenue on the north side of the English River in Kalona are all closed.”
This what is closed right now, but VanSickle has been keeping a watchful eye on G38 by old Highway 92. He isn’t sure if that part of the road will be closed there. He said the water is right up under the bridge.
VanSickle said he generally hears about a road needing to be closed from the local residents. He will go out and drive the road.
“I checked on some roads this morning and had to close them,” he said. “If there is water over the road, that’s when we close it.”
Once the water recedes,the Washington County engineer’s office will check on the damage and then work on getting the roads open again. This also depends on the weather, VanSickle said.
“We need dry weather,” he said. “We’ll wait until the ground freezes over to put rock on. Otherwise, we’ll tear it up as much as we’re trying to fix it. If the road thaws out we’ll have to quit. Just bear with us.”
In Riverside the baseball fields in Hall Park are waterlogged. The city is in the process of building a new lift station Hall Park. There is also sewer work being done.
“I did notify the contractors,” city administrator Rusty Rogerson said. “I have done some tours of the area just to see where the water is.”
Rogerson added that work would most likely be delayed on the lift station due to the flooding.
Despite the recent rain, Jim Fawcett, Iowa State University agronomist, said this would not help the drought.
“It helps with the river and stream levels but not agriculturally,” Fawcett said. “It’s mostly runoff because the ground is still frozen.”
Fawcett said spring flooding is normal in Iowa, but if there aren’t more rains the ground will still be pretty dry.
“It depends on where you’re at,” Fawcett said. “We are in better shape in southeastern Iowa. If you go west it’s worse.”