Mason City’s water treatment plant is being ringed with sandbags as the Winnebago River is expected to rise to at least ten-and-a-half feet by the weekend, three-and-a-half feet above flood stage. City Administrator Brent Trout says they decided several days ago to prepare to take action based on the flood forecast.

“We started last week looking at what our needs were going to be for protection of the water plant, specifically,” Trout says. “We started the work, making sandbags. We had a city crew starting to make sandbags, getting ready, palletizing, and now with that forecast in place, we’re taking the next step.”

If the river only rises as high as the forecast predicts, Trout says it won’t impact the plant, but they want to be ready in case the waters rises higher. “They’re projecting it should stay within its banks and we shouldn’t have any issues, but flash flooding is always a concern, and that’s something if you don’t have the base built for your protection, you won’t have time to react to be able to increase the size of whatever sandbagging you’re planning to do,” Trout says.

“You’ve gotta’ start now in order to be prepared for what might come in the future.” Trout says the city learned after the 2008 flood inundated the plant that it’s wise to be better prepared for flash flooding. “We don’t want any recurrence of that and we are a lot smarter about what happens, related to that,” Trout says. “We’re taking proactive steps now to make sure that we’re in a good position.”

Flood watches and warnings are scattered across much of the state due to the heavy rains and warmer temperatures combining with the fast-melting snow to raise river levels. Learn more at ““.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City