State officials warned Monday that all the water that caused heavy flooding in northern Iowa is heading downstream. National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Johnson joined the lieutenant governor and emergency management director to discuss the potential for major flooding in eastern and central Iowa.
Johnson says a "big bubble" of water is flowing downstream. Johnson says it looks like a major flood is headed down the Cedar River basin for Waterloo and eventually Cedar Rapids. Johnson says the Iowa River in Marshalltown is also expected to cause problems. He expects the river to crest sometime Wednesday morning in Marshalltown and says the weather radio there had already been shut off due to flooding.
Johnson says the water flowing into the Saylorville Reservoir will go over the emergency spillway Wednesday, sending lots of water downstream to Des Moines. "So that’s going to cause problems in Des Moines, it’s going to hit, not record flooding we’re expecting in Des Moines, but significant flooding," Johnson says.
State Emergency Management administrator, David Miller, says those communities downstream are preparing. Miller says a lot of the communities are working to raise their levies or strengthen them. Miller says they are trying to get ahead of the bubble of water. Rumors circulated after the floods of 1993 that the Saylorville Dam may’ve been in danger of failing. The roadway around the spillway of the dam was closed Thursday, but Miller says there’s not a danger of failure.
Miller says the reason they shut the highway down is more traffic control and safety than it is about the dam itself. Miller says people are more worried about the water that’s going to flow through. Miller says the concern is about the water topping the spillway and releasing more water into the Des Moines River and downtown Des Moines.
The eastern Iowa city of Palo, the home of Iowa’s only nuclear power plant is also facing flooding. But, Lieutenant Governor Patti Judge says the flooding should not impact the plant. She says the plant is not in danger, as they have been assured that the plant is in good shape, even with flooding. Judge says the difficult thing will be access in and out of the power plant if the roads are under water.
Judge says a lot of work has gone into improving flood plans since the major flooding of 1993 — and while that will help prevent damage, it won’t prevent this latest round of flooding. Judge says we cannot deny the fact that the modeling is showing very high levels of water in the next few days, and Judge says she hopes everyone heads flood warnings to stay safe.
Johnson says there is a break in the rain now, but a fast-moving storm system is expected to move through the state late Wednesday and last into Friday. This system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall of one to two inches, with slightly higher amounts possible.