The southwest Iowa city of Red Oak is in the center of a flood storm. Flood water is threatening to swamp the city’s sewage plant. Montgomery County emergency coordinator Adam Wainwright says it’s an "urgent" situation and they’re trying to erect a sandbag barrier to keep the water out.
"The water…is coming right up very close to the sewage plant," Wainwright says. "So that is the number one priority right now." Inmates from the state prison in Clarinda are at the National Guard Armory, filling sandbags. "We need to get those sandbags up around…the sewage plant..because if the water gets up there we are in trouble and we don’t have a whole lot of time to mess around," Wainwright says.
In the six hours between three o’clock and nine o’clock this morning, the Nishnabotna River that runs just west of Red Oak rose a foot. A creek inside the city limits of Red Oak has risen dramatically, and a huge pump was brought in from Council Bluffs to try to divert the water from nearby homes.
"Thank goodness it stopped raining, but any leftover rains we have, any water from just north of Red Oak — that’s what we have to watch with Red Oak Creek," Wainwright says. "Right now we’re in the process of trying to get that all pumped out and lower that level." Shelters were opened overnight and some Red Oak residents stayed until sunrise. Residents who live near Red Oak Creek or along the banks of the Nishnabotna are urged to leave their homes.
"Now that it’s light, we’re able to see a little bit better, see where the water level is," Wainwright says. "Until we know exactly when the Nishnabotna’s going to crest and start to decrease we will continue to…strongly encourage the evacuation." Red Oak’s fire chief and police chiefs have asked sightseers to quit driving through the area.
Governor Chet Culver issued a Governor’s Emergency Proclamation Sunday for Harrison, Pottawattamie and Montgomery counties. Today, Decatur and Fremont counties were added to the proclamation.
The proclamation enables state resources to be deployed at no cost to help local responders during emergencies.