Governor Culver stopped in Humboldt, Fort Dodge and Boone on Thursday on a tour of the flood-stricken counties he has declared disaster areas. Flooding has damaged homes, roads, bridges and farms. Culver says there’s still too much water to get into the flooded areas.
Culver says they can’t get into the areas with FEMA officials to assess the damage to crops, homes, businesses and roads. The governor said FEMA crews are on the ground, ready to assess damage — as soon as the water recedes. He met with federal officials in Fort Dodge to assess whether there will be more damage downriver.
Culver says a massive sandbagging effort kept the damage to a minimum in Fort Dodge, but he says residents of Humboldt were not so fortunate. "As many as 75-percent of the homes (in Humboldt) have significant damage in terms of flooding," Culver said in an interview with Radio Iowa.
If rivers continue to rise, Culver says he may send Iowa National Guard troops to communities that need help. Many towns have century-old sewer systems that are overloaded and dumping raw waste into rivers. Culver says improving those systems is no easy task.
"It’s certainly something that the legislature could look at," Culver says, "but it really comes down to a resource question. We want to do every thing we can to help communities, large and small, when it comes to the public’s safety." Culver spoke to Radio Iowa from Humboldt, prior to his final stop Thursday in Boone.
Culver says the Des Moines River as it heads to Saylorville "looks pretty good." In Boone, the governor boarded a train to view damage on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. Fenner Stevenson, the excursion train’s director, says water has washed out the foundation underneath some sections of track.
Stevenson says one washout was 40-feet long and 20-feet deep. Work trains are hauling in rock to rebuild the ballast under the track. Fenner estimates damage may total as much as one-million dollars.
He says some areas run 100-feet "where the rail is just hanging there, maybe ten feet deep," areas that will all have to be filled in with rock and realigned. The train is still operating with shortened routes.