More heavy rain fell across much of the state this weekend, sending more rivers out of their banks and prompting Governor Culver to open an emergency operations center to monitor flooding statewide. The governor called it the worst flooding the state has seen in a decade. Shelters were open in a dozen Iowa communities, including Iowa City, Mason City, Des Moines, Decorah, Clear Lake, Waterloo, and Fort Dodge.
In Iowa City, Johnson County Emergency Management Director David Wilson says massive sandbagging continued Sunday, and will resume this morning. He says a half-million sandbags in the county are in use right now and two machines are being used that can fill 750 bags an hour to reduce the physical labor involved. Wilson says water is being released at a faster rate each day from Coralville Reservoir upstream, which is forcing the Iowa River out of its banks. He says the water is rising quickly in Coralville and Iowa City, and while everyone is cooperating to get the sandbagging done, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.
In Mason City, high water forced the closure of the water treatment plant. Duty Commander Jack Odegaard, with the Mason City Fire Department, says water encroached on the water containment areas and pumps had to be shut down that would pull the water from the aquifer. Residents are being told to sharply reduce water use to conserve the day to day and half supply on hand. Officials are prepared to haul in water if the plant is not operational again soon.
Odegaard says a levy broke along the Winnebago River and now all the creeks are flooding in the Mason City area as normal levels are around seven feet but the water’s already at 19 feet.
A water retention dam was topped in New Hartford, affecting roughly 300 residents. Dozens of roadways are closed across the state. The weather service reported rainfall amounts of up to five inches in parts of northern Iowa. Heavy rains Sunday were accompanied by severe storms, and power was out in parts of central Iowa including Dallas County and Ames. Numerous streets are closed in Des Moines, and dozens of highways around the state are also closed.