An already record high Iowa River in Iowa City is expected to rise another four-and-a-half feet by Monday. Officials believe all city bridges linking east and west Iowa City will be closed in the next couple of days. Many neighborhoods have already been evacuated and University of Iowa President Sally Mason says a good chunk of the campus is in jeopardy.
"I counted up to 19 facilities that likely were to be involved," Mason said this afternoon at a press conference. "We don’t know to what extent they’ll be involved nor would we know to what extent the total damage might be at the end of this."
A majority of the campus is now closed down and will remain that way for the near future. "Because we need to preserve essential services – such as the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and our utility system – we are canceling nonessential operations immediately," Mason announced. All summer classes at the university are canceled through next Friday.
Mason is asking people on the campus to practice conservation to help keep the U of I Hospitals in business. "To the extent that you can cut down on your water and power usage right now, it will help us in the long run…because we know that we’re going to have some critical utility and infrastructure problems as this worsens and we still have a lot to face ahead of us," Mason said.
Don Guckert, the associate vice president of facilities management at the university, said the top priority now is keeping the hospital and clinics and utility infrastructure in operation. This morning, workers and equipment were pulled away from the Iowa Memorial Union, the Iowa Advanced Technology Labs and Hancher Auditorium because flood waters were already entering the basements. Guckert says they decided to turn their attention to other threatened facilities.
"We’re racing against time and water…we’re doing all we can to make it," Guckert said. Faculty, staff and students have been hauling materials and equipment out of buildings or to upper floors as flood waters rise faster than expected.
"We are in unchartered waters in terms of being able to respond to a flooding event of this magnitude," Guckert said.
Volunteer sandbagging efforts continue around Iowa City.