Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley ordered an evacuation of the downtown area today in anticipation of more rain hitting the city. “This is not a recommended, this is not an encouragement, this is a mandatory evacuation,” Hurley says. “…The reason for it is not because of a break in the levee or water coming over the levee. It’s because of the saturated ground. It’s because of storm water backing up and it’s backing up fast. Intersections are becoming impassable. People are getting water in their basements and we have perhaps a minimum of two to a maximum of six inches of rain possibly coming our way this afternoon and evening.”
Waterloo appears to have dodged the threat from the water already in the Cedar River, according to the mayor. “What I think I can say with some confidence is that right now the river has crested in Waterloo,” Hurley says. “It will probably hold at that position a number hours, maybe half a day, maybe longer…but we have this unknown factor of how much additional moisture we’re going to get locally and north, up in the watershed.”
Hurley describes the flood fight in this way. “It seems as if, metaphorically, we’ve been in a 15-round heavyweight boxing match and we’re in the later rounds and it’s still a draw,” Hurley says. “We’re bruised and battered and cut but there’ve been no 10-count knockdowns yet.”
Water pressure in Waterloo dipped a bit as one of the feeder lines across the river apparently went down. The mayor says the water continues to be potable, drinkable, although it may have a rusty taste to it. With the water pressure lowered, Hurley is asking Waterloo residents to conserve water. “Good citizens of Waterloo, hear me. Please minimize your use of water until further notice,” the mayor said during a news conference.
Steve Scharfenberg of the city water utility says they believe the flooding took out a water line. “We think around 9:30 or a quarter to ten this morning we had one of our transmission lines fail,” Scharfenberg says. “…We have six river crossings that feed water from north to the south and we think one of those (has) failed.”
But Scharfenberg says they’ve activated some other wells and the water pressure has stabilized and is still safe to drink. Waterloo fire officials have stationed ambulances on each side of the river to ensure a quick response in an emergency.