Iowa’s Governor has declared nearly one-quarter of Iowa’s counties disaster areas due to damage from weekend storms, and more counties could be added to the list following last night’s round of strong winds, hail and flooding. Iowa Emergency Management division director Ellen Gordon says compared to the Floods of ’93, though, what’s happened in the past few days is a “medium-sized” disaster.Gordon says the Floods of ’93 were longer in duration, as they started in March and didn’t clear away ’til October. In addition, the flooding 11 years ago was statewide in scope, whereas this round of flooding does not cover as large an area. Gordon says several Iowa communities have asked for state help in sandbagging efforts to build make-shift levees to protect drinking water supplies.Gordon says as a result, she does not think any drinking water systems are in jeopardy. Gordon says the state is helping to jump-start sandbagging projects wherever needed. Gordon says state workers are delivering sandbags to cities and counties that request them, but the local governments are getting volunteers to fill the bags with sand. Governor Tom Vilsack has designed 23 of Iowa’s 99 counties disaster areas. Last night, Howard County was added to the list which already included Black Hawk, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cass, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Hancock, Humboldt, Johnson, Jones, Kossuth, Mitchell, Page, Pocahontas, Winnebago, and Wright Counties. Gordon is hoping to hear today whether President Bush will declare those counties federal disaster areas, which would free up low interest loans for businesses and individuals who need to clean-up or rebuild. A few evacuations were ordered overnight due to flash flooding. Many roads were closed temporarily, but a stretch of Highway 92 near Winterset was closed last night not because of water but because authorities were worried a batch of dynamite nearby could have been ignited by lightning.
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