Officials say at least three-quarters-of-a-billion dollars in damage was done when more than 400 blocks of Cedar Rapids went underwater as the Cedar River surged through town. The river’s begun to recede there, with Iowa City to the south bracing for a crest of the Iowa River on Tuesday.
Governor Chet Culver visited Iowa City on Friday. “It was just heartwrenching to see the destruction right through the heart of Iowa City, to see the campus damage — 19 buildings,” Culver said during a Saturday afternoon interview with Radio Iowa. “…It’s just on and on and on.”
Sandbag barriers have been erected throughout Iowa City, but by late Saturday afternoon the university’s president said all that could be done had been done and all people could do was wait and see how high the water goes. The governor suggests it’s hard to look at the devastation that’s already occurred in Iowa City. “So it hurts, it really, really does,” Culver said. “I love Iowa City and it’s a beautiful place, but we’re going to have to really help them recover and rebuild and I’m absolutely committed to do that.”
Just north of downtown Des Moines the Des Moines River punched a 100-foot-wide hole in a levee and flooded about 200 homes. But many places in Iowa are inundated and threatened by rising rivers. “Ottumwa, Burglinton, Oskaloosa, Hills — south of Iowa City,” Culver said, “just multiple fronts that we’re fighting.”
By mid-Saturday over 3500 Iowa National Guard soldiers had been activated for flood duty — leading evacuations, sandbagging and security efforts. In the past three weeks, there have been 16 storm-related fatalities in Iowa. Culver warns the state’s flood fight is far from over as forecasters predict the Mississippi River will begin flooding on June 18 — at levels likely higher than during the historic floods of 1993.
Click on the audio link below to listen to Governor Culver’s the 11 minute conversation with Radio Iowa.