Downtown Des Moines was buzzing Friday afternoon after city officials asked workers and homeowners to leave properties in a swath of the city around the flooding Des Moines River. Katrina Runde, an employee at the Spaghetti Works restaurant, remembers the floods of 1993 that swept downtown Des Moines.
"I’m dreading all of us down here losing our jobs, actually," Runde says. "…Also I’m worried that once it is over people may not want to come back for a while. It’s just worrisome and stressful."
Kelly Gamlin left his downtown home with just a duffle bag and a pillow, headed for a weekend in Kansas City. Gamlin says he assumes the evacuation will be short-lived, so he did little around his home before he left.
"Took out the trash. That was really about it," he says. "(I) took a minimal approach, maybe too minimal." Des Moines City officials say the decision to evacuate was initially made after a water gauge on Beaver Creak showed a level that would have led to floodwaters going over the top of the downtown levees. Officials say the gauge was malfunctioning and giving a reading that was off by two feet.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie told reporters at a late afternoon briefing that the Des Moines River had crested and was on the way down. Cownie says he personally feels a little better, but says the water levels are still at a height that’s higher than they’ve ever been, debris is coming down the river and lot’s of other issues. Cownie says they decided to keep the evacuation request in effect just to be on the safe side.